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Fish farm trash and plastic nanoparticles

by Jack and Jude 16 Jan 14:08 UTC
Anela Choy – Scripps Oceanography ©

The other hat we wear; of concerned world citizens trying to keep the fish farms in Macquarie Harbour from totally obliterating the World Heritage shores with their plastic ropes and filaments.

We've been waging a war of education for three years, trying to make our politicians aware of the lasting damage being done to land that was set aside because it is unique. And we are trying to educate the farm managers that their procedures are not good enough.

Frankly, it's an uphill battle, and we think you can understand, with humans need for food and jobs seeming to rank a heck-lot-higher than Earth and her creature's survival. I guess if that wasn't the case, Australia would not be giving approval for the Adani Coal Mine, nor would we be farming fish in a closed water system at 42 degrees south latitude.

Over winter, I had several chats with the farm's aquaculture manager to see if we could fix the farm procedures that can't stop mooring buoys, pipes and thousands of meters of plastic ropes escaping from the leases.

We both agree that Macquarie Harbour is a problematic work site with strong cold winds challenging the workforce. Knowing this, our suggestion is to establish a permanent team of say three active young men to walk the shores like Jude and I do, to pick up the fish farm trash before it breaks down into filaments and then nano plastics.

Plastic Nanoparticles

We have been warning for years that the ropes, some rather large, are breaking down by wave action and sunlight. A fifty-millimetre diameter rope is made up of tens of thousands of filaments.

Nature's forces break these into minute particles too small to even see. Our scientists are finding 99% of the plastic in our oceans is breaking down to particles so small they get ingested by the sea creatures and either form their flesh or are excreted out in waste that sinks to the ocean floor.

"What we commonly see accumulating at the sea surface is less than the tip of the iceberg, maybe a half of 1% of the total," says Erik Van Sebille, an oceanographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "I often joke that being an ocean plastic scientist should be an easy job because you can always find a bit wherever you look."

The enormous amounts of plastic on the ocean surface were what initially sparked public and scientific interest in the plastic problem. In this way, they acted like a buoy, pointing the way to something much larger beneath the surface.

As Anela Choy, Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego puts it, "The deep ocean is the world's largest habitat. We're just beginning the accounting of how much of our plastic has ended up there."

This article has been provided by the courtesy of

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