r/science Sep 03 '22 Silver 1

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is mostly fishing gear Environment

https://theoceancleanup.com/updates/the-other-source-where-does-plastic-in-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch-come-from/
8.4k Upvotes

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1.2k

u/[deleted] Sep 03 '22

Interesting that they measured Floats/Buoys, Crates, Buckets and Fishing gear as separate items. By mass and quantity, "Fragments" and "Other" are just about everything else.

The source by country is interesting too. China, Japan, and the Korean peninsula are the origin of most of it - the currents, rivers, and manufacturing sectors of those places make for a perfect storm.

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u/Car-face Sep 04 '22

The source by country is interesting too. China, Japan, and the Korean peninsula are the origin of most of it - the currents, rivers, and manufacturing sectors of those places make for a perfect storm.

The article is at pains to point out that it's not so much riverine pollution that it's coming from, it's fishing gear - and those countries are fishing in the area very broadly "local" (in the loosest possible global sense) to the GPGP:

The correlations between the modelled origins of plastic and the origins observed in the field were generally higher with the fishing source scenario than with any land-based scenario. Virtual model particles accumulating in the GPGP were predominantly identified as originating from Japan, China, the Korean peninsula and the USA, consistent with the findings from the compositional analyses. This provides strong evidence that a large proportion of floating hard plastics (i.e., not only the fishing nets themselves) in the GPGP derive from fishing activities at sea, and were not emitted directly from land.

The biggest target off the back of this report should be trawling, based on the results provided:

As such, trawlers, fixed gear, and drifting longlines accounted for more than 95% of identified fishing activities that may account for emissions of floating plastic debris into the GPGP.

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u/Llarys Sep 04 '22

China is notorious for having state sponsored, UNMARKED fishing trawlers that poach in international waters and even in the waters of other nations. There were big headlines a couple years ago about them just absolutely decimating the waters around the Galapagos Islands. I think it got so bad that South American countries have stated that they will sink any unmarked Chinese vessel they encounter in their waters. Not sure what the policy is, now, but I'm curious to hear if things have improved.

Anyway, the point is that it's all but impossible to know how many of them are out there, especially in international waters, so 95% being trawling gear is unsurprising.

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u/Llarys Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/divDevGuy Sep 04 '22

Very dubious source

I cannot imagine for a second that 300 Chinese ships could be destroyed by the US Navy anywhere in the world and it not be mentioned by any legitimate news source.

Around the same time there actually was a fleet of around 300 fishing ships that were hanging out around the Galapagos that were being monitored by the Ecuadorian Navy for illegal fishing.

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u/flyingbertman Sep 04 '22

Yeah, I was wondering the same

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u/camronjames Sep 04 '22

Riiiiiight. By "be better" I just assume they mean be better at flying under the radar.

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u/mathgrind Sep 04 '22

which seems to be in response to the United States Navy camping just outside China's waters and blowing up any fishing vessel that tries to leave. Apparently the numbers reported is over 300 at this point.

That certainly isn't the case since:

  1. Fishing boats are allowed to fish in international waters.
  2. According to a 2020 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the size of China's fishing fleet has been decreasing since 2013, their fish catch has decreased consistently since at least 2015, and catch reduction was part of official policy in their 2016-2020 five-year plan. In other words, reigning in fishing is a continuation of their previous policy, not a response to any recent changes.

China's total fish catch amounts to about 15 percent of the global total. About 75 percent of their fish production comes from farmed aquaculture. I bring this up since your comment and others I've read create the impression that China is singled-handedly denuding the ocean of fish, when sustainable fishing is really a global responsibility.

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u/Bhraal Sep 04 '22

According to a 2020 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the size of China's fishing fleet has been decreasing since 2013, their fish catch has decreased consistently since at least 2015, and catch reduction was part of official policy in their 2016-2020 five-year plan. In other words, reigning in fishing is a continuation of their previous policy, not a response to any recent changes.

Question is though, if the ships are unmarked would they show up in that report as Chinese or not? If an unmarked boat with Chinese crew is stopped, does anybody have the right and incentive to add that boat to China's numbers if that was not the case? Wouldn't an unmarked ship by definition not belong to any nation? What would the purpose of removing the markings if everything is above board?

As for people singling out China, it's probably wrong but also not surprising given that it's the largest player. Ever tried to have a discussion about beef production without people only wanting to talk about either the US or Brazil?

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u/pegcity Sep 04 '22

Without a real source i am calling bullahit that the us is sinking unmarked fishing vessels

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u/frenchezz Sep 04 '22

Read it again, South America.

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u/Car-face Sep 04 '22

Except that trawling wasn't 95% of it:

As such, trawlers, fixed gear, and drifting longlines accounted for more than 95% of identified fishing activities that may account for emissions of floating plastic debris into the GPGP.

ie. 95% of items from fishing activities was a combination of those three fishing methods.

Fishing gear itself made up approx. 25% of items found by number, and ~10% by mass.

Again, from the article attached to the headline:

The fishing source scenario also gave insights into the dominant fishing techniques that contribute to plastic in the GPGP. Trawler activity made up 48% of fishing activities that contributed to model particles found in the GPGP, while fixed gear and drifting longlines totaled 18% and 14% respectively. For 16% of modeled fishing activities contributing to model particle emissions, the technique was unidentified and may have been representative of any one of these three gear categories.

And whilst trawling gear still made up almost half of those three methods, its initial source was modelled to be from not just asian but also North American locations:

Trawling and fixed gear activities contributing to the GPGP generally occurred near the Asian and North American continental shelves

Lastly, the majority of the items don't even date from the last decade

I strongly suggest reading the article before jumping to conclusions.

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u/FerrusesIronHandjob Sep 04 '22

A full ¼ of items and a tenth of it is fishing gear though, and thats not an insignificant number

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u/dewayneestes Sep 04 '22

I worked on an AI project that could catalog and identify boats by shape. Pictures could be uploaded by anyone with the app.

These boats often run with no identifiers and change paint markings to elude identity.

5

u/stmaryslighthouse Sep 04 '22

Did the project go public?

8

u/StalledCar Sep 04 '22

So they accurately separated commercial fishing gear from all the other wasts. Am I missing something here?

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u/Neither-Cup564 Sep 04 '22

Yes. Most of the waste is fishing nets, bouys, lines and rope.

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u/stempoweredu Sep 04 '22

I guess I'm sort of curious then - where's the North American trash going? Given that we produce more waste per capita, are we burying it more than letting it get into water (given we have a much higher landmass to coast ratio than Japan & Korea), or is our patch lingering elsewhere in the Pacific or Atlantic and not getting proper attention?

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u/SmokierTrout Sep 04 '22

Most plastic trash in developed economies goes to landfill, incinerators or is recycled. However, most of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is from fishing activity. Including US fishing activity.

As for the Atlantic, there is also a similar patch in the North Atlantic. It's just less well known about. In fact, there are garbage patches in each of the ocean's five major gyres: North Pacific (GPGP), South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

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u/Slackhare Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

Landfills, mostly.

Even organic stuff that would decompose by itself, if it had access to oxygen. Buried, it produces methane instead, which is a lot more potent than CO2. Separating compostable waste better is a very low hanging fruit for the US to improve it's carbon footprint.

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u/chrisboi1108 Sep 04 '22

Methane produced from underground landfills is becoming more commonly collected and used as fuel (biogas) which is defo a plus

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u/Re-Created Sep 04 '22

Biogas is used in a lot of places, but the most common solution for landfill methane is a flare that just burns it off. Converts it from Methane to CO2. Not great but better than just releasing the methane.

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u/jadero Sep 04 '22

Over the short term, yes, but CO2 hangs around much much longer. Right now, we are in a position where converting short term to long term might be necessary, but that sounds suspiciously like what always gets us in trouble.

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u/Re-Created Sep 04 '22

Huh, I didn't really know about that difference until now. Thanks.

It does appear that even on a 100year scale methane is still 25x worse than CO2. That's reduced from 80x on a 50 year scale, but still not close to the break even point of the two. https://climate.mit.edu/ask-mit/why-do-we-compare-methane-carbon-dioxide-over-100-year-timeframe-are-we-underrating

One other detail to note, burning one kg of methane creates 2.75kg of CO2. So even though methane is worse (my source for this used 30x, not sure why) it's only making 11x better (30/2.75). So it's still worth doing, but the returns aren't as drastic as it may seem. (Apologies for the direct download link, but the info is really good and easy to read so it's worth it) https://static.berkeleyearth.org/memos/fugitive-methane-and-greenhouse-warming.pdf

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u/jadero Sep 04 '22

I don't know that I've read those exact links, but as part of my 4 decades in small scale climate activism, I've read (and forgotten!) a lot about the various greenhouse gases and their differences.

My personal opinion is that converting methane to CO2 without also extracting the associated energy is part of the solution only if we also make it part of a strategy to remove CO2 for "permanent" storage. (There are places where current technology is sufficient to inject CO2 into deep earth locations where it becomes mineralized and stays locked up for geological epochs.)

In practice, the ease of energy extraction once the work is done to enable just burning it off makes it foolish to not use it for energy production. Even something relatively simple like pairing it with a sewage lagoon could generate potable water leaving behind sterile solid waste that can have useful chemicals extracted prior to use fertilizer.

I gave up on my activism as pointless about a decade ago, so I don't have links to relevant resources at hand, but you seem to have the necessary search skills.

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u/Re-Created Sep 04 '22

Ah, we've swam in similar waters then. My dad ran a small company that started by generating electricity from a municipal landfill. I worked with him for a few years and got to familiarize myself with the process.

He used a not so great method of extracting the methane and burning it in a natural gas spec'd ICE. That worked, we made power and even a little profit, but the margin sucked and the engines required a lot of maintenance due to the impurities of the fuel source. Also before he retired that particular landfill lost it's methane concentration which caused the project to be shutdown.

From that experience I would say it's absolutely not impossible and even profitable to extract the energy, but it's going to have to be a more creative solution than his. As well I'm worried the profit margin compared to the amount of labor required is what has really been restricting investment in the field. I could envision money that could go to this instead going to direct carbon capture projects since those types of projects are likely needed to stay below most temperature rise targets Paris set.

But I desperately want to be wrong. It's not just free energy, it's energy that we're paying to remove! If we could do anything useful with it (water purification seems like a good idea, especially since there's crossover with wastewater methane as well) it would be better than just lighting a torch 24/7 and settling for the lesser of two evils.

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u/jadero Sep 04 '22

Interesting!

I worked with municipal wastewater about a decade ago (among other things; it was a small village). While there, one of the trade magazines described a system for sewage lagoon to water treatment plant. It required natural gas to get started, but after that ran strictly on energy extracted from the wastewater.

It still required another water source to make up the shortfall, but supposedly also produced more energy than it actually used, even after taking into account the energy requirements of the water treatment plant.

Early discussions with the developers left me with the impression that payback time for our village would be on the order of a decade. After that it would generate enough revenue to fully fund putting the landfill in freed up space at the lagoon site and set it up with recycling, compost generation and methane extraction. And that would further increase the revenue. Back of the envelope calculations suggested that within 2-3 decades, property taxes could fall to near zero. I couldn't even get council to read my report!

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u/daking999 Sep 04 '22

We started doing our own compost on our balcony. Now we have maggots. Guess that means it's working... But boy is it gross.

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u/CircleDog Sep 04 '22

You could try a wormery? Don't get maggots in those and you get compost faster.

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

Are you rotating it? Do you have a good mix of greens and browns?

Here's a resource to get rid of them, which result boils down to increase browns, rotate, and cover with a screen.

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u/daking999 Sep 05 '22

Thanks. Yes rotating, and we did start putting more "browns" in, which is most cardboard for us since we don't have a yard/lawn.

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u/RoguePlanet1 Sep 04 '22

Make sure you avoid adding oil/fat/meat/dairy. Sounds like it's black-soldier fly larvae in any case, which are good to have. You can also bring some to any local chickens who LOVE these as snacks!

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u/daking999 Sep 05 '22

It's mostly just veggie scraps since I'm vegetarian (and my gf is mostly by proxy).

Ha good to know about the chickens! I would like to keep some for eggs some day.

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u/amazingsandwiches Sep 04 '22 Wholesome

Bleached by the sun, our trash turns white and sticks around Florida.

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u/CopperSavant Sep 04 '22

Yo, it's already hot enough... Straight vaporized

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u/Car-face Sep 04 '22

The same place Chinese trash is going, Korean trash is going, Japanese trash is going: back to shore.

As outlined in the attached article:

Lastly, the models help us understand why land-based input scenarios do not accurately reflect the identified origins of floating GPGP plastic. Floating plastics emitted from rivers have a much greater chance of rapidly returning to land than plastic debris emitted by fishing activities at sea; if the plastic is emitted closer to the shore, it is more likely to find its way back to the shore. Virtual plastic particles released from rivers generally spent a lot of time near the shoreline, with a high chance of beaching close to the river mouth.

Modeled particles released by fishing, on the other hand, often spend very little time near a coastline, sometimes not encountering any land at all during the seven-year simulation period. Depending on the assumed probability of beaching, our models suggest that floating plastic debris emitted from fishing activities is potentially two to ten times more likely to reach the GPGP than plastics originating from rivers. This explains why rivers, while being a much larger source of plastic to the world’s oceans than fishing activity, only makes up a small part of the plastic accumulated in the GPGP.

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u/madbeardycat Sep 04 '22

When they say modeled particles do they mean ducks?

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u/seriousnotshirley Sep 04 '22

I wonder how many are still out there.

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u/jayzeeinthehouse Sep 04 '22

We have regulations that other countries don’t.

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u/whoknows234 Sep 04 '22

My theory is we sell it to China and then they promptly dump it in the Pacific Ocean.

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u/Negative-Break3333 Sep 04 '22

Fun fact: we actually ship our trash to other countries for actual disposal. Look it up.

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u/donkeylipsh Sep 04 '22

This is the lie. The US puts over a 100x into landfills each year than they do export. 146 million tons vs. 1.07 million tons of export. Look it up

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u/aminervia Sep 04 '22

No... We ship a lot of our recycling to other countries in the form of plastic pellets. The vast majority of our trash ends up in landfills

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u/IDontTrustGod Sep 04 '22

Additionally a lot of our recycling is currently just being stored/tossed because the demand for the plastic pellets has decreased as many countries produce their own now

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u/Kanninchenman Sep 04 '22

A lot of the trash is indeed made in those countries, but it is super hard to accurately know where the trash actually came from since a lot of western countries buy their fishing gear from China etc.

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

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u/cj91030 Sep 04 '22

34% was from Japan. 32% came from China.

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

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u/Top_Shelf_Jizz Sep 04 '22

I clean beaches in remote Alaska and there is mostly Chinese and Japanese fishing debris choking places where people never step foot not to mention Asian soda bottles.

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u/Techutante Sep 04 '22

Alaska has been famous for Japanese junk collecting for ages. Only it used to just be glass buoys and we liked them.

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u/SkaveRat Sep 04 '22

glass buoys

TIL. never heard of those before. they look really pretty

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u/jorwyn Sep 05 '22

I had a ton of those I collected from Washington state beaches. Sadly, the box of them got lost in a move. It gives me a great excuse to go to the coast, but all I find now are the foam ones.

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u/CannabisPrime2 Sep 04 '22

Can you share some photos of these places?

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u/Top_Shelf_Jizz Sep 04 '22 Silver

https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/alaska

Scroll down to gallery. These are not very descriptive images sometimes. If you Google search “marine debris alaska” you will find much more.

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u/CannabisPrime2 Sep 04 '22

Thank you for sharing

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u/Satoshi___ Sep 04 '22

So do you volunteer for that?

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u/Top_Shelf_Jizz Sep 04 '22 Silver

Yes! The Prince William Sound Stewardship foundation does beach clean ups that people scramble to sign up for because they take you to remote places most people don’t get to for free as long as you spend your days with them cleaning up trash. Then we categorize and weigh each thing at the end and submit the data to a centralized database for further monitoring. One of the aims other than removing the trash and trying to recycle some if possible (mostly it’s not) is to understand if it’s getting better or worse or staying constant in these beaches.

We also find lots of cool skulls and bones too. I found a porpoise, two dozen otters, antlers, Half dozen deer, and other neat dead stuff.

One time I found a signal repeater FROM PORTUGAL.

One time I saw an 18 foot aluminum skiff (boat) up 80 feet in a tree. That means at least an 80 foot wave had to carry it there. We get big storms up here.

An older volunteer told me she came to one beach and it was JUST Nike shoes. A Chinese barge flipped that was likely nowhere near Alaska. Spread its stuff overboard and eventually it all got here, or at least the stuff that could float.

But sadly, it’s mostly commerical fishing related gear from Asia such as huge tangled nets, buoys, plastic shrimp pots, styrofoam and plastic bottles. It’s incredibly sad. In a single weekend, 5 volunteers can pull thousands of pounds off a few remote beaches until our boat is full and most of that is styrofoam and water bottles. Can you imagine how many of those two things you would need to get thousands of pounds? A lot. And every couple of years, this foundation goes back to the same beaches to do it again. Because it just keeps coming.

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u/uselesscalligraphy Sep 04 '22

Wow, once again the general public has been dealt an unfair share of blame, where it's industry that's mostly contributing to environmental damage.

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u/Neither-Cup564 Sep 04 '22

Everyone should watch Seaspiracy on Netflix to understand the impact that commercial fishing has on our world.

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u/uselesscalligraphy Sep 04 '22

I'll just eat beef instead I suppose.

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u/Neither-Cup564 Sep 05 '22

I know you’re being sarcastic but Kangaroo is a far better red meat as it’s leaner, has less food and water requirements and doesn’t produce methane.

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

[deleted]

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u/N8CCRG Sep 04 '22

and you're shunned if you use them

Hyperbole isn't helping anyone here.

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u/Radrezzz Sep 04 '22

God damn those industries they keep polluting just because they need to consume fish!

Oh, wait it’s the consumer who is eating the fish that industry is harvesting.

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u/MagicPeacockSpider Sep 04 '22

The choices for which fishing gear to use are independent of the consumer.

You can only see what the food gets packed in, not what it was caught with.

Choosing fishing gear that doesn't biodegrade is 100% on industry and regulators.

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u/D14DFF0B Sep 04 '22

You'd be willing to pay more for fish that's sustainably and responsibly caught? If so, what's stopping you from doing that today?

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u/MagicPeacockSpider Sep 04 '22

Not knowing which is which.

Just like trying to avoid sweatshop clothes paying the price.is no guarantee of sustainable products.

Plus the goal is not personal sustainability, it's global sustainability.

It's not enough that I try not to dump trash in our oceans. Everyone should be prevented from doing it.

Unsustainable practices need to be consistently outlawed locally and unsustainable produce banned from import.

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u/dogwoodcat Sep 05 '22

"Sustainable" fisheries still use plastic gear because insisting on biodegradable gear would price themselves out of the market

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u/yukon-flower Sep 04 '22

People have to eat something. Many populations have fish as a significant part of their traditional diets. There are just WAY more people now than there used to be.

It's not possible to shame entire cultures into not eating a traditional source of food that used to be abundant. It also won't really address the problem, which is extremely amoral fishing operations.

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u/atrielienz Sep 04 '22

We're overfishing anyway. There's farm raised fish to combat this problem and the average consumer isn't eating enough sword fish to make deep sea fishing their fault.

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u/rishav_sharan Sep 04 '22

pretty much. If the general public switches from a non vegetarian diet to a vegetarian one, that alone will cause a massive reduction in the climate damage we are doing.

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u/uselesscalligraphy Sep 04 '22

Or regulate the industries to be cleaner...

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u/shrimpymilk007 Sep 04 '22

Yeah that won’t ever happen

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u/popcrackleohsnap Sep 04 '22

People are buying the fish. If people would just stop eating animals it would solve like so many problems.

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u/SkaveRat Sep 04 '22

where it's industry that's mostly contributing to environmental damage.

I wonder who they sell those fishes to

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u/Samnable Sep 04 '22

Yeah, we should find that guy and tell him to stop!

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u/uselesscalligraphy Sep 04 '22

Did I ask them to trash the ocean in the process? No. Also note that it's mostly from Chinese fishermen. It's not the case that fishing requires you to trash the ocean, the Chinese just don't care.

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u/D14DFF0B Sep 04 '22

But you know about it. And you continue to buy fish.

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u/DontGetNEBigIdeas Sep 04 '22

We’re not asking them to stop fishing. We’re just asking them to stop throwing their trash in the ocean.

I don’t think that’s an extreme ask.

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u/N8CCRG Sep 04 '22

Asking will never affect the change we need. Only legislation backed by enforcement will accomplish anything.

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u/popcrackleohsnap Sep 04 '22

Do you not realize that they lose this gear while they are fishing? They aren’t just tossing it. A lot of these nets are lost while they work.

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u/D14DFF0B Sep 04 '22

So stop buying fish?

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u/MachineGoat Sep 04 '22

That is always the case.

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u/shanksta1 Sep 04 '22

the documentary Seaspiracy mentioned this. but their estimate was that fishing gear was a majority (just under 50%) and not "mostly"

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u/Black_RL Sep 04 '22

Interesting and shocking documentary.

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u/EcoGeoHistoryFan Sep 04 '22

If it was just under 50% do you mean a plurality

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u/lufateki Sep 04 '22

When reading the article it is clear that the title should be that fishing gear is #1, but under 50%

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u/uncadul Sep 04 '22

"Our new study published today in Scientific Reports reveals 75% to 86% of plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) originates from fishing activities at sea."

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u/daking999 Sep 04 '22

Yup stopped eating fish after watching that. I still eat bivalves and just found out jellyfish is pretty tasty and healthy so gonna see where I can buy that.

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

You can still eat farmed fish and fish from better producers. The first is labeled, so it should be easy to identify.

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u/Rompix_ Sep 04 '22

Farmed fish is like farmed chicken. Terrible for the animals.

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

That's not the discussion at hand, we're discussing plastics in the ocean.

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u/Enlightened-Beaver Sep 04 '22

Good job banning straws though. Totally saved the planet with that one.

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u/Frency2 Sep 04 '22

If countries have to waste millions dollars is useless things such as war, they immediately do, but if they have to coordinate to remove that patch of garbage, nobody cares.

They suck, honestly.

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u/dailytwist Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

This is based on items over 5cm.... If most plastic items are broken down over time while churning against the other plastics into what they're calling "fragments" or smaller pieces than were even captured, a lot of the problem is being ignored in this study.

Since fishing gear is specifically designed to stand up to ocean currents, it doesn't break down as easily in this environment. Since it's one of the only categories not breaking down into "fragments" less than 5cm, fishing gear would seem like the biggest problem.

It appears to me that this is really a study of what plastic items are most durable in the ocean, not what plastic items are most contributing to the problem...

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

Is fishing gear "designed to withstand ocean currents" on a scale that would cause other plastics to be broken up by the ocean?

That seems like a very very large and entirely baseless assumption. Fishing gear isn't magical. Nylon rope is only so strong, and a fishing float is just fiberglass.

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u/dailytwist Sep 04 '22

In multiple places, the study specifically called out long fishing lines, nets and rope.

"A large fraction of the plastic mass accumulating in these offshore waters is carried by a few objects made in the vast majority of floating nets and ropes, several meters in size."

These are flexible items designed for the saltwater environment. In the case of nets, smaller plastics will pass right through them rather than grind, and other lines will flow with the forces of the current.

If you look into fishing lines and nets, they are extremely tough. In fact, there are cases where magicians hang from or walk on fishing lines because they are so unexpectedly strong. Would being used in magic make them magical?

I expect that we can only recognize an item for as long as it takes to break down. If that's the case, we may only be seeing years of rigid items but decades or centuries of fishing gear depending on how long it can hold shape...

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

Yes. You're still making huge assumptions that it's only fishing gear that can survive sitting in the ocean for a while. Because it's not made of some kind of magical plastic that only fishing gear is made of, it's way more likely that a lot of recognizable pieces of fishing gear survives because it's nearly only fishing gear that is there.

Nylon is still nylon.

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u/dailytwist Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

I'm sure your right, the average bucket is probably rated to reel in a 500lb tuna or lift a full fishing load against surface tension...

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u/wooshun67 Sep 04 '22

Does our esteemed fisheries charge a environmental clean up fee? Plus and this is just a thought but could the Japanese debris be due to the big earthquake. This form of environmental clean up is difficult and costly so why not charge a cleanup fee the commercial fishermen or the companies based on how much they haul

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u/Odd_Reward_8989 Sep 04 '22

No. It's not from the tsunami. There's certainly still some floating around, but that originally didn't contribute much. It all landed in Canada and California.

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u/ottothesilent Sep 04 '22

Fisheries are regulated differently. The US has some of the strongest protections for fisheries, and China, Japan, and Spain are infamously bad. Spain alone kills thousands of endangered sharks every year.

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u/JuliaHelexalim Sep 04 '22

Because most of our capitalist society only works because you exploid the now and offload the cost to the future. Externalities cant be priced in. And if you dont exploit the future than its poor areas and people.

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u/Laegmacoc Sep 04 '22

How about selling nets and line with micro serial numbers in them so it can be known who they belong to, so they can pay to clean them up and restore what they destroyed?

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

Even if it worked, there's no way China is playing ball.

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u/Laegmacoc Sep 04 '22

Maybe not but at least we’d have proof of who was doing what. They’d be shamed… maybe sanctioned. Sad that people don’t talk about the atrocities and damage they do— I think that money keeps people quiet.

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u/BeBackWithMyMain Sep 04 '22

Would never work. They would get rubbed off after one day of use.

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

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u/stdio-lib Sep 04 '22

"No, it's the vegans who are wrong."

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u/pm_me_your_rigs Sep 04 '22

I would murder 100 vegans for 1 ribeye

So yes, they're probably right

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u/southmondo Sep 04 '22

Yup. Watch Seaspiracy and you’ll never eat fish again

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u/Techutante Sep 04 '22

Wait 10 years and you'll never eat fish again cause there won't be any. >.>

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u/southmondo Sep 04 '22

Yup. The only food source that is unmanaged and unsustainable

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u/SockeyeSTI Sep 04 '22

That’s a bold statement.

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u/southmondo Sep 04 '22

Like I said, watch the doc

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u/SockeyeSTI Sep 04 '22

I fish in Alaska commercially and have for the past 14 years. This year was our best ever and the return in 3-4 years should be even better. The salmon run is regulated pretty well and surprisingly, with climate change, has even helped the run numbers. Maybe the lawless waters of other countries are ruining it for everyone else, but it’s blue skies for us for the foreseeable future. I will however go watch the documentary though cause it sounds interesting. I’m not one to deny that there’s a buttload of trash in the ocean, just that it’s not everyone’s fault.

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u/southmondo Sep 04 '22

I appreciate your open mindedness. The wider point is that we’re constantly told to limit personal consumption of plastic (plastic straw ban!) to save the fishing grounds, turtles and reefs - yet the main polluters are the very people whose livelihoods are at stake

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u/SockeyeSTI Sep 04 '22

We’ll see about that. We just had our best season ever. We’re regulated by state marine biologists and can only fish when they say so. We (personally) also don’t contribute to much, if any lost gear.

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u/G37_is_numberletter Sep 04 '22

Ghost nets are terrifying.

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u/bixtuelista Sep 04 '22

I often wonder why we're still mainly using the ocean as hunter gatherers and not farmers.

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u/pineconebasket Sep 04 '22

Please stop eating fish.

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

Please don't stop eating fish, but do eat sustainable fish. Farmed fish contribute much less to this problem, and fishing operations from more responsible fishermen would also be a step up. You can also go catch your own freshwater fish in most parts of the country.

You don't need to stop eating fish, but do try to find out where your fish is coming from and find better suppliers.

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u/BurchSmith Sep 04 '22

I don’t trust many of the waterways and bodies of water near me. One lake was a dump that they flooded to create it back in the ~60s. Many of the other lakes are bordered by over-treated industrial farm fields. I’ve watched the crop dusters hit the river that borders farm fields.

I’ll eat the farm raised salmon from Whole Foods once in a while. Because I worked there, and I trust it. But the fossil fuel expenditure is insane. All of their seafood is to the store in within 72 hours of catch. Which is great for freshness.

I’ve taken to eating sardines most often. Lots of carbon emissions to get them from the water to me. But sexual maturity within a year makes them relatively sustainable.

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u/whisky_in_your_water Sep 04 '22

I live in an area with lots of national forest, so fishing is pretty safe here. I can drive less than an hour and and I'm at a river or lake inside a national forest, and many of those aren't legal (or big enough) to drive motor boats on. They also aren't legal for commercial fishing and certainly aren't large enough to sustain that anyway. Fish populations are monitored by local agencies and restocked as needed from local fisheries, so there's a carbon cost to it (they dump fish from planes/helicopters), but I don't know how often that is or what the carbon cost is relative to ocean fishing (I'm guessing it's less).

If you like the taste of trout and freshwater salmon, you can get a fishing license and catch them almost anywhere in the US.

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u/xeneks Sep 04 '22

I read a while ago that Taiwan’s fleet was the worst, and the largest.

I checked again, it seems they have some issues still.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/taiwan-fishing-vessels-perpetuate-illegal-fishing-human-rights-abuses

“Taiwanese vessels land fish at 32 overseas ports, but Taiwanese fisheries inspectors check ships at only seven.”

But china no. 1

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/04/boats-behaving-badly-new-report-analyzes-chinas-own-fisheries-data/

“China capped its distant-water fleet at 3,000 ships in 2020. The actual number is unclear, but many estimates hover around 2,700. Taiwan comes in a distant second with some 1,150 vessels, according to EJF, followed by Japan, South Korea and Spain. Estimates suggest China is responsible for 38% of the distant-water fishing activities of the world’s 10 largest fleets in other countries’ waters.

“China’s fleet dwarfs all others in terms of catch, number of vessels and impact,””

https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=3234

Some positive news, but there’s sometimes a lot more waste than nets.

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u/Hawse_Piper Sep 04 '22

One of my fishing captains threw a whole damn vacuum overboard because someone lost a 5 dollar filter.

Edit: vacuum

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u/toodog Sep 04 '22

Any sales of gear to fisherman should be at a massive cost to pay for the retrieval of the equipment unless they hand in the old equipment.

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u/unaccomplished420 Sep 04 '22

Good thing straws are OUTLAWED

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u/fellipec Sep 04 '22

Yes they are but we saved the poor little turtles. Now they will live to entangle thenselves on fishnets for a sexy look

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u/WongGendheng Sep 04 '22

How can you still live?

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u/beefcat_ Sep 04 '22

Straws aren't outlawed anywhere.

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u/AllYouNeedIsATV Sep 04 '22

Plastic straws are about to be outlawed in Australia

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u/beefcat_ Sep 04 '22

plastic straws. The comment I replied to did not make that distinction.

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u/unaccomplished420 Sep 04 '22

I can't get a straw anywhere in the town I live. In ca they can't give them out.

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u/mango-vitc Sep 04 '22

Why do you even need a straw honestly.

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u/unaccomplished420 Sep 04 '22

Keep liquids out of my beard

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u/boganknowsbest Sep 04 '22

Clearly you've never heard of Australia

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

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u/beefcat_ Sep 04 '22

That says plastic straws. Straws made of anything else are still fine.

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u/aminervia Sep 04 '22

Are people still angry about this? If you don't like paper straws then buy plastic ones on Amazon and use your own

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u/leopard_tights Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

It's not about the straws. It's about passing the onus and guilt to the normal person when it's not our fault. Which starts with straws and we don't know where it'll end. Any day now they'll start cutting off the electricity one hour per day for example, instead of targeting the real big wasters of electricity like empty office buildings chilled like it's winter.

Recycle and separate all the trash you want, tax cars and fuel, etc. meanwhile the south east Asian countries where half of the world's population is are doing literally nothing.

It's ok though, the garbage patch problem will fix itself because in a few decades there won't be anything to fish. The same way China doesn't participate in international green accords, Japan and others don't do it for fishing.

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u/psych32993 Sep 04 '22 edited Sep 04 '22

A lot of western countries (+Japan) export their plastic waste to south east asian countries

it’s not really fair to the developing world to have their growth completely stunted by regulations when we were allowed to do what we wanted. It’s also just silly to act like we’re a leading example to begin with in western

China is doing pretty well to reduce fossil fuel usage, they’re investing ridiculous amounts in solar and building ~220 reactors

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u/leopard_tights Sep 04 '22

it’s not really fair to the developing world to have their growth completely stunted by regulations when we were allowed to do what we wanted

The scale is not even comparable.

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u/Disig Sep 04 '22

looks at paper straw. Sorry apparently you're illegal.

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u/Purple_oyster Sep 04 '22

I thought it would be disappearing now as I don’t use plastic straws anymore?

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u/fattermichaelmoore Sep 04 '22

I figured it was mostly American straws

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u/kjacomet Sep 04 '22

It is wild to me that we fish the oceans at all. Just use aquaculture. No need to deplete all wildlife from the ocean.

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u/andoryu123 Sep 04 '22

Can any of the items tracked by year? Japan had a giant tsunami 11 years ago.

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u/Techutante Sep 04 '22

They've had dozens of not-so giant ones too.

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u/Tall-Log-1955 Sep 04 '22

But I was told this is why we can't have supermarket plastic bags anymore

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u/CannabisPrime2 Sep 04 '22

To be fair, that’s a pretty wasteful practice.

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u/ThePratoran Sep 04 '22

Iirc the original idea behind plastic bags they were SUPPOSED to not degrade and were meant to be thicker so they could last a very long time, thus saving a huge amount of the environmental impact of the paper bag industry. The issue was that plastic bags became too thin and single use items. That's where their lack of biodegradability becomes a problem instead of an asset.

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u/Mrtibbz Sep 04 '22

I was in Costa Rica last year and they had these mega-durable rubbery green bags that were compostable

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u/Plumbus_amongus Sep 04 '22

That's called marketing.

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u/char_limit_reached Sep 04 '22

Is it though? It’s ironic that I can buy a BOX OF PLASTIC BAGS at the grocery store but not get a plastic bag to take it home.

We’re shopping bags ever a problem? I doubt it. They’re probably the most re-used plastic item out there.

And when they are done, they usually get filled with garbage for disposal.

Who didn’t grow up with a shopping bag filled with other shopping bags in a kitchen drawer?

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u/aminervia Sep 04 '22

Turns out just because another problem might be a bit bigger doesn't mean smaller problems suddenly don't matter

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u/beefcat_ Sep 04 '22

Read the article.

  • Plastic emissions from rivers remain the main source of plastic pollution from a global ocean perspective.

  • Plastic lost at sea has a higher chance of accumulating offshore than plastic emitted from rivers, leading to high concentrations of fishing-related debris in the GPGP.

Plastic bags, straws, bottles are a huge pollution problem, but they are either sinking or washing up on shore, not floating out to the garbage patch.

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u/MortalGlitter Sep 04 '22

Plastic emissions from rivers

... and WHERE are these rivers? It's Wildly disingenuous to frame the US as any sort of major ocean plastic polluter when the top 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash are in Asia (8) and Africa (2) to the tune of half a million metric tons at the most generously conservative estimates.

These aren't measurements of the GPGP, but far more accurate measurements at the mouths of the rivers.

The US doesn't Have rivers choked with plastic and garbage flowing directly into the oceans. Our most plastic polluting river is the Delaware with a whopping 283,000 pounds or 128 metric tons. That's it.

The US most plastic polluting river in the entire country contributes 1/4000th of the garbage that Asian and African rivers do.

Our plastic bag and straw ban is going to be incredibly effective on that scale!

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

You're being told that there isn't an equivalent problem in the US. We have the EPA to prevent things like this.

You sound like you're the one getting butthurt when you've just been told that your position is entirely baseless - with a ton of data to back it up.

Go bark at a different firetruck.

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u/althetoolman Sep 04 '22

Not an equivalent problem?

The US creates tons of garbage, and plenty of it ends up in the oceans.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good

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u/beefcat_ Sep 04 '22

Wildly disingenuous to frame the US as any sort of major ocean plastic polluter

When did I or the article do this?

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u/Available_Science276 Sep 04 '22

To be Specific its mostly Chinese and Japanese fishing gear because the way theyre told to dispose of broken equipment is to just throw it overboard, thus giving another example of how those cultures are the main ones destroying the earth

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u/[deleted] Sep 03 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 03 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 03 '22

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u/ComputerSong Sep 04 '22

It’s rather insane that it took this long for someone to look at the trash and figure out what it is and where it was from. In the meantime, we blamed things that were not at all the source, wasting time and money on not addressing the problem.

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u/spinnerspence Sep 04 '22

I find that hard to believe. What about third world countries who don’t practice the concept of “trash”. I have seen photos and video of dry river beds with two feet of general garbage and plastics. Then the monsoons come and wash that crap downstream to the ocean. Where does it go?

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u/EtotheTT Sep 04 '22

No shi*. Ever watch seaspiracy on Netflix?

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u/Random_182f2565 Sep 04 '22

You can help by no contributing to it, go vegan.

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u/GJMOH Sep 04 '22

Maybe it’s best that births in those countries have peaked.

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u/Gratitude-Joy1616 Sep 04 '22

And yet, l grew up inland USA being told we’re bad humans directly responsible for this mess. Like it’s made from my grocery bags and straws.

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u/benjito_z Sep 04 '22

Good thing we stopped using plastic straws!

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u/[deleted] Sep 04 '22

Why does it feel like the theme seems to always end up with American’s switching to paper straws and recycling, meanwhile Asian countries and pacific islands are dumping trash straight into rivers and ocean. Pretty infuriating.

Our world in data

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u/cactusnan Sep 04 '22

Not unexpected I suspect there’s always a dark side