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2050: more plastic than fish in our oceans? Overfishing and pollution

Overfishing and pollution mean there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean

Our oceans our struggling to cope with the growth of the world population. The demand for food as well as pollution are both on the rise, with many parts of the seas depleted while the amount of plastic grows ever-larger.

716 million tons of plastic in our oceans by 2050, with waste levels on the rise

A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (launched by solo sailor Ellen MacArthur, who has broken a large number of sailing records) that deals with the future of plastic states that if we are to continue on our current path, there will be more plastic than fish in the seas by 2050. The authors did not include the plastic that is ‘broken down’ in the oceans or is cleaned up.

The amount of fish in the oceans can only be estimated, but overfishing is becoming a greater problem

The amount of fish the oceans contain is difficult to estimate. Since 1950 the FAO (The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation) has registered the amount of fish caught. According to a British-Canadian study, which was published in Science in 2016, one investigation produced the result of 2,000 million tons while another came back with 900 million tons. That’s a big difference, but the fact remains that if we continue fishing the way we do, we will be facing a huge problem. It might not be as bad as having more plastic than fish in the oceans, as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report asserts, but it will still be an unjustifiable one and the figures are astronomical. Never mind what the situation will be in 100 years.

We need a revolution in how we deal with plastic pollution and overfishing

At present one kilogram of plastic is the equivalent of five kilograms of fish. Around 95% of the plastic we use is only used once. A complete revolution in our plastic usage and in overfishing would of course be the best option. We should be looking for packaging alternatives, packaging that is not based on petroleum, and that is sustainable and natural. If things remain unchanged, some 20% of oil production will be devoted to plastic. A solution has sadly still not been found.

Further reading:

The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans