90% of plastic waste in the North Pacific Garbage Patch largely comes from 5 countries


Among the waste that constitute the North Pacific Garbage Patch, a large part appears to come from floating materials resulting from fishing-related activities. Photo: AFP

Whether known as "the seventh continent", "trash island" or the "garbage continent", there are all kinds of unglamorous names for the huge pile of floating trash that covers an area of 3.5 million sq km in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean known as the North Pacific Garbage Patch (NPGP).

Among the waste that makes up this island of garbage, a large part appears to come from floating materials resulting from fishing-related activities, as revealed by a recent study published in Scientific Reports.

Researchers from the Ocean Cleanup project and Wageningen University in the Netherlands collected 6,093 pieces of trash measuring less than 5cm from the garbage patch and analysed them one by one.

The most common plastic objects were unrecognisable plastic fragments. However, fishing and aquaculture equipment was the second-largest category of trash.

The researchers were able to identify a total of 232 plastic objects and their country of origin based on elements such as language, text, company names or brand logos.

A significant portion of this waste was found to come from Japan (34%), China (32%), South Korea (10%), the United States (7%) and Taiwan (6%).

The study highlights the important role that the fishing industry plays in addressing the global issue of plastic pollution in the ocean: "While recent assessments for plastic inputs into the ocean point to coastal developing economies and rivers as major contributors into oceanic plastic pollution, here we show that most floating plastics in the North Pacific subtropical gyre can be traced back to five industrialised fishing nations," the researchers conclude. – AFP Relaxnews

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