21 October 2009

How much damage does marine litter cause? US$1billion

A new report for the 21 APEC economies reveals a conservative estimate of damage caused by marine litter to be US$1.265 billion.
Accumulations of plastic on Tanah Merah, seen in Oct 09

This does NOT include costs to wildlife, loss of tourism and lost capital development opportunities, like building a hotel or resort. It also does NOT include the clean-up bill.

The report, commissioned by the Marine Resource Conservation working group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), used a Japanese economic model which estimates the damage caused by marine debris costs governments close to 0.3% of their GDP every year.

Some recommendations of the report
  • That governments focus more on preventing rubbish entering our waterways, instead of trying to control it once it gets there.
  • Recycling, especially of plastic "really needs attention and thought". A good strategy is to reimburse people who recycle plastic bottles.
  • Building nets at the end of estuaries, where rivers or streams meet the ocean, to catch any debris before it makes its way into open water.
Other facts
  • 6.4 million tonnes of debris reaches the world's oceans each year.
  • Of that 80% is thought to come from land based sources.
  • Poor landfill practices are big contributors to marine debris, especially in Asia.
  • The amount of marine debris in oceans is growing with the world's population.
Full article about the report on the wildsingapore news blog.

More links to the marine debris situation in Singapore
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