The demand for luxury shellfish is polluting the ocean with plastic

phys.org | 5/23/2018 | Staff
dewbydewby (Posted by) Level 4
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The federal government has taken action recently to reduce the amount of plastic waste found on land and in oceans, rivers and lakes.

In June, for example, it said it would ban single-use plastics by 2021. "It is tough to explain to your children why dead whales are washing up on our beaches with their stomachs jammed packed with plastic bags," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented at the time.

Progress - Plastic - Polluters—shellfish - Aquaculture—continues - Ecosystems

Despite this progress, one of the main plastic polluters—shellfish aquaculture—continues to threaten marine ecosystems.

Coastal British Columbia is rugged and jagged. Its drowned fjords are home to wild salmon and the ecosystems that depend on them. Tucked away between Vancouver and Denman islands is Baynes Sound, a serene inland sea, home to sea mammals, globally important duck and bird populations, and a biological diversity unmatched along our coast.

Ecosystem - Years - Department - Fisheries - Oceans

So unique is this ecosystem that, 20 years ago, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recommended regions within this area be set aside as protected areas.

Threats to the sound include increased tourism, urbanization and an-as-yet-unregulated seaweed harvest. The greatest threat, however, is an expanding shellfish industry that provides a continual source of plastics to the sound.

Years - Community - Beach - Cleanups - Plastic

For the past 14 years, community beach cleanups have measured the plastic in Baynes Sound. An astonishing four to six tonnes of plastic debris, including anti-predator netting, plastics trays, ropes and styrofoam, is collected from the beaches annually. Now polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping, used for the farming of geoducks is also being washed ashore.

In 2017, the DFO gave the West Coast shellfish industry a green light to expand its farming practices to include the lucrative geoduck, a luxury protein used in sashimi, to meet the demand from Hong Kong and the rest of China.

Geoducks - Ducks - Clams - Pacific - Coast

Geoducks (pronounced "gooey ducks") are large salt-water clams, found naturally along the Pacific coast. Sales of farmed geoduck...
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