| July 11, 2017

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA, More than 200 marine scientists from 14 countries have descended on Port Elizabeth in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province for the inaugural Pan-African Marine Waste Conference as pollution has emerged as of the biggest threats facing oceans and marine life.

Leading marine scientists from across the globe are here to search for solutions to combat pollution and toxic build-up in the oceans. Research shows that every second, about 350 kilogrammes of plastic lands in the ocean; at this rate the world's oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, the founder of the Ocean Blue alliance campaigning for more protected marine areas, says: Much of the plastic debris is old, lost and tossed fishing gear so it's littering the beaches. It's continuously killing animals -- 300,000 marine mammals, many sea birds, turtles and other creatures get tangled in this lost and tossed fishing gear, but it's also throwing away plastics that are causing problems by being digested by whales, turtles and fish. Pollution is affecting everything in its path.

The South African government has in recent year's stepped up its efforts to explore the ocean economy but pollution is threatening to put the brakes on the opportunities at making a livelihood off the sea.

The chief executive of South African non-for-profit organization Sustainable Seas Trust, Tony Ribbink. elaborates: It's costing us millions; not only is it killing a huge number of animals, but ultimately it's coming back to affect us. So the humanitarian costs are in fact very considerable. But having to clean up and stop the waste has not been measured, but we know they are great.

Research shows that 95 per cent of plastics found in oceans comes from the land.


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