Fishing gear from just five regions could account for most of the floating plastic debris in the ‘North Pacific garbage patch’, a vast swathe of the North Pacific Ocean that holds tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic.
A study published on 1 September in Scientific Reports1 found that up to 86% of the large pieces of floating plastic in the garbage patch are items that were abandoned, lost or discarded by fishing vessels. The finding is counter-intuitive, given that most marine plastic makes its way into the ocean through rivers.
Fishing is as old as humanity itself. Indeed, it is older — paleontologists have found evidence that our ancestors Homo habilis and Homo erectus caught lake and river fish in east Africa a million years ago. Large shell deposits show that our Neanderthal cousins in what is now Portugal were eating shellfish over one hundred thousand years ago, as were Homo sapiens in South Africa. Island people have been fishing in the southwestern Pacific for at least thirty-five millennia.Read More »