By Heini-Sofia Alavuo
As Greeks try to cut the amount of plastic clogging up their seas and environment, a new report released on Friday — World Oceans Day — claims the Mediterranean has the highest levels of plastics pollution in the world.
The research from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) states that 95 percent of the waste that ends up in the sea and its beaches is plastic. In this region, such waste comes mainly from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France.
Friday’s report also states that the biggest problems for the sea are mass tourism, excessive plastic use and poor waste management.
European countries produce approximately 27 million tons of plastic waste annually, but only one third of this is recycled.
Researchers are extremely worried about the record-breaking amount of microplastics; the WWF says that the sea holds only one percent of the world’s waters, but concentrates seven percent of all global microplastics.
This poses a serious threat to the marine life as well as human health, since the plastics end up in our food chain. This is bad for the Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, which rely heavily on aquaculture and oceans in general.
It is also known that large plastic pieces in the ocean injure, suffocate and kill marine animals, such as endangered sea turtles.
In Greece the problem has been approached by the government with a so-called eco-tax on plastic bags, and some places, such as Sikinos, are banning plastic straws.
Recently the European Union proposed a ban on many single-use plastic items, but still a lot needs to be done in order to fight the plastic problem.