WWF sounds the alarm: "No ocean can swallow this much plastic"

Overfishing, the climate crisis and plastic pollution pose a massive threat to the world's oceans - the WWF is calling for better protection and a strong, international agreement against plastic in the sea.

 

Marine heatwaves, mass coral bleaching and, most recently, a tragic decline in migratory fish species - these are just some of the warning signals that the oceans are sending us. On World Oceans Day tomorrow, the environmental protection organization WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is therefore drawing attention to the urgent need to protect the oceans from increasing man-made threats:

"The consequences of the climate crisis are becoming ever clearer, overfishing is continuing unabated and plastic pollution is reaching unbelievable levels - no ocean can swallow that much," warns Axel Hein, marine expert at WWF Austria, referring to the eleven million tons of plastic that end up in the sea every year. "The animal and plant world is literally suffocating on our garbage. Seabirds die in agony from pieces of plastic in their stomachs, turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and fish mistake tiny plastic particles for plankton. And microplastic particles also end up in the food chain," says Hein.

The global plastics agreement currently being negotiated by the UN states is a glimmer of hope - a draft is to be drawn up by the end of the year. However, the text still contains many ineffective options and bogus solutions, which are being demanded primarily by oil-producing and oil-processing countries.

"Global plastic pollution could triple by 2040 if we don't take action now. Voluntary measures will not stop the flood of plastic. We need legally binding rules that apply globally and hold polluters accountable. In the next round of negotiations in November, the states must continue to work on an ambitious agreement with renewed vigor," says Hein.

Above all, a treaty ban must be established for those high-risk plastic items that most frequently end up in the environment and cause the most damage there. These include, for example, single-use and microplastics as well as plastics containing harmful chemicals.

 

Protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030

The WWF is also calling for a large-scale expansion of marine protected areas worldwide. The goal is to place at least 30 percent of the oceans under protection by 2030 in order to stop the biggest threat - overfishing. In order to prevent the bycatch of 300,000 whales and dolphins and to protect marine mammals from ship noise on their migration routes, it is necessary to expand so-called "blue corridors" in which the animals can migrate unharmed by fishing and shipping traffic. An internationally binding agreement is also needed to stop planned deep-sea mining.

"International policymakers must now urgently turn several screws before the marine ecosystems collapse. Isolated, hesitant steps will not be able to save the oceans," demands Axel Hein from WWF Austria