Fishermen prepare to fish, amidst floating garbage off the shore of Manila Bay. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
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Today, there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans, together weighing more than 250,000 tons.As a result, plastic in the oceans is rapidly shredded into microplastics, which quickly disseminate.Chemical pollutants like pesticides flow downhill to the ocean and stick to plastic, leaving most marine scientists in agreement that microplastics in the ocean are hazardous waste.Second, ocean cleanup is an inefficient and unnecessary strategy. The plastic that is in the oceans now will rapidly shred and settle to the seafloor or wash ashore, making cleanup at sea the least efficient means of recovery, and the least effective means of controlling emissions of waste to the ocean. Marcus Eriksen is the research director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. He studies the global distribution and ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing through all five subtropical gyres, Bay of Bengal, Southern Ocean and inland lakes and rivers, most recently publishing the first global estimate of plastic pollution floating in the world's oceans.
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