About this Research Topic
Millions of tonnes of plastics are discarded, disposed of or abandoned in marine and coastal environments every year. “Harm” caused by plastic wastes can be divided into three general categories including social (reduction in aesthetic value, public safety), economic (cost to tourism, damage to vessels, losses to fishery operations, cleaning costs) and ecological (through entanglements, physical damage to habitats and assemblages, ingestion including uptake of microparticles, the release of associated chemicals and facilitating the invasion of alien species). Plastic contamination is a widespread phenomenon, as plastic debris enters the seas from both land-based and maritime origins, from point and diffuse sources, and can travel long distances before being deposited. Plastics typically constitute the most important part of marine litter sometimes accounting for up to 100 % of litter in some areas and may degrade to micro and nano particles. Recent studies on sources, transport and distribution of ocean plastics will enable to evaluate fluxes and budgets in oceans. However, data is still lacking before a global estimate can be given. Moreover, although impacts on some marine organisms have been reported, more research is needed to support appropriate initiatives to counter other negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Harm, related to environmental, social and economical aspects is not well understood with various and complex mechanisms and a high diversity of responses from marine organisms and populations which are already subject to a wide variety of anthropogenic stressors. Articles presented in the research Topic "Plastic Pollution" will primarily explore the latest interdisciplinary research and discuss the main questions around this topic. It will also help to better define perspectives and improve our knowledge. This will enable a scientific support for a better management of plastic wastes and help implement efficient public policies.
Photo Credit: Daniel Fox
Keywords: marine debris, microplastics, Marine litter, ocean plastics, litter
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