Protected areas in the Atlantic facing the hazards of micro-plastic pollution: First diagnosis of three islands in the Canary Current

Source: ScienceDirect

Authors: Juan Baztan, Ana Carrasco, Omer Chouinard, Muriel Cleaud, Jesús E.
Gabaldon, Thierry Huck, Lionel Jaffrès, Bethany Jorgensen, Aquilino
Miguelez, Christine Paillard, Jean-Paul Vanderlinden

Abstract

Coastal zones and the biosphere as a whole show signs of cumulative degradation due to the use and disposal of plastics. To better understand the manifestation of plastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean, we partnered with local communities to determine the concentrations of micro-plastics in 125 beaches on three islands in the Canary Current: Lanzarote, La Graciosa, and Fuerteventura. We found that, in spite of being located in highly-protected natural areas, all beaches in our study area are exceedingly vulnerable to micro-plastic pollution, with pollution levels reaching concentrations greater than 100 g of plastic in 1 l of sediment. This paper contributes to ongoing efforts to develop solutions to plastic pollution by addressing the questions: (i) Where does this pollution come from?; (ii) How much plastic pollution is in the world’s oceans and coastal zones?; (iii) What are the consequences for the biosphere?; and (iv) What are possible solutions?

 

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