Plastics have entered the world’s oceans such a massive scale that scientists have coined the term, “Marine Plastics” to identify these forms of plastics. Now, researchers Ignacio Gestoso, Eva Cacabelos, Patrício Ramalhosa, and João Canning-Clodea of the Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Madeira Island, Portugal and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD, USA, have coined a new term for plastic that encrusts itself onto the ocean’s intertidal coastal rock formations, plasticrust.
“[The crusts] likely originated by the crash of large pieces of plastic against the rocky shore, resulting in plastic crusting the rock in a similar way algae or lichens do,” Gestoso told Earther.
These bits of plastic are most likely encrusting the rocky surfaces of intertidal zones around the world, and the impact of these man made materials on organisms that may be ingesting these plastics is not yet known.
Gestoso’s paper, “Plasticrusts: A new potential threat in the Anthropocene’s rocky shores” is published in the journal Science Direct. The researchers say these plastics present a novel pathway for entrance of plastics into the marine food web, and that plasticrusts are a potential new marine debris category.
“The potential impact that these new ‘plasticrusts’ may have needs to be further explored, as e.g. potential ingestion by intertidal organisms could suppose a new pathway for entrance of plastics into marine food webs,” the researchers wrote in their abstract discussing the new type of marine plastics. “Consequently, its inclusion as a potential new marine debris category in management and monitoring actions should be pondered.”
The impact of these plasticrusts are already having negative effects on the Portugese island of Madeira, where Gestoso says the plasticrusts are slowly replacing natural biological crusts and films on the rocks the intertidal animals such as snails and barnacles adhere to and rely on as a food source. For example, an algae-eating species of winkle sea snail was just as abundant on the plasticrusts as on surfaces that it normally feeds upon, suggesting that the mollusk may be grazing directly on the algae that forms on the plasticrusts, potentially ingesting plastic as it eats plasticrusts.
Clean Our Oceans Project takeaway: It is all about personal responsibility. Make a decision to use less plastic, and recycle the plastic that you do use.
In a bid to help coastal and island communities to reduce their debt burdens, while helping to save and restore the world’s oceans, the Nature Conservancy announced that it will start selling “blue bonds” to help restructure and refinance debt for communities that live near the ocean. As part of its Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative, the Nature Conservancy is hoping that these nations will protect at least 30 percent of near-shore ocean areas such as coral reefs, mangroves and related near-shore ocean habitat, in exchange for better debt repayment terms. (See “Greenpeace Releases 30×30 Blueprint For Ocean Protection)
As part of its Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative, the Nature Conservancy is hoping that these nations will protect at least 30 percent of near-shore ocean areas such as coral reefs, mangroves and related near-shore ocean habitat, in exchange for better debt repayment terms.
The countries’ governments commit to protect at least 30 percent of their near-shore ocean areas, including coral reefs, mangroves and other important habitats, and engage in ongoing conservation work such as improving fisheries management and reducing pollution.
Then TNC leverages public grants and commercial capital to restructure the nations’ sovereign debt, leading to lower interest rates and longer repayment periods.
A portion of those savings fund the new marine protected areas and the conservation activities to which the country has committed.
We also lend our scientific expertise to the planning process and work with local partners to identify activities that combine conservation and sustainable economic opportunities, such as restoring reefs for tourism and improving fisheries management to help ensure buy in and compliance from all stakeholders.
“There’s still time to reverse decades of damage to the world’s oceans before we hit the point of no return,” Mark Tercek, CEO of TNC told GreenBiz. “It’s going to take something audacious to tackle marine protection at this scale, which means thinking beyond more traditional approaches to ocean conservation.”
According to GreenBiz, TNC has already secured more than $US 23 million in funding from donors. It is hoping to secure $US 40 million, which will hopefully unlock $US 1.6 billion in ocean conservation funding. Up to 20 countries will be the recipients of these funds, of which the NTC hopes 1.5 million square miles of biodiverse, near-shore ocean areas are protected.
When a nation accepts these Blue Bond monies, marine scientists with The Nature Conservancy will develop a “marine spatial plan,” to help pay for newly established marine protected areas and other programs to help protect the oceans. These will be paid for via debt restructuring and philanthropic donations, according to GreenBiz.
“This is the philanthropic opportunity of a lifetime,” said Tercek. “Every dollar we raise will result in 40 times the impact. It’s hard to find better leverage than that.”