Monday, July 15, 2019

We Need a Drastic Reduction in Plastic!

Lobster at CHV!
            We had another exciting week at Camp Harbor View! We caught our first flounder at the site, with the first being 14.5” long and the second being 14”. We also caught our third, and largest, striper coming in at 19”, still a long way from a legal 28” fish, but fun to catch! Along with the usual hordes of crabs in the traps there was a juvenile lobster. It’s safe to say this week was one to note at Camp Harbor View. I also got the chance to go on a fishing trip with two groups this week--from Charlestown Coalition's Turn It Around program, and the Washington Heights Tenants Association--where we caught all manner of species from flounder black sea bass sharing good times on the harbor. 

             Another, unfortunately, familiar sight in the harbor was plastic pollution. This was in the form of shopping bags, plastic bottles, and miscellaneous debris. Sadly, this is the norm in many coastal places throughout the world. Wherever there is a lot of people and commerce there will be a lot of trash and some of that trash will inevitably find its way into the environment. Images of sea life ensnared in trash floods social media today and helps to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans. 

            Large plastic is definitely a problem in our oceans and has decreased the quality of life of many marine organisms. Another, less known about, type of plastic pollution comes in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in length. These tiny plastics enter the environment through a couple of ways. Large plastics will break down into smaller pieces over time, eventually becoming small enough to be classified as microplastics. Other plastics are made to be tiny for use in products, often called microbeads, like exfoliators or even toothpaste. No matter how these microplastics enter the environment, they pose a threat once there. These plastics have the potential to enter the food chain at a low level and, through the process of biomagnification, move up and increase in concentration at higher levels. For example, if a small fish consumes 5 microplastics and then a large fish eats 10 small fish, that large fish now has 50 microplastics in its system. If there are microplastics in marine organisms, then microplastics are definitely ending up on our plates. These plastics can contain harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, and could pose a potential risk to all organisms that consume them, including humans.

Nice striper from CHV!
            Although plastic pollution in the ocean is scary, there is a lot that can be done to help reduce the amount of waste getting into our waters. One of the biggest things we can do to help is by properly disposing of trash and recycling plastics properly so less reusable plastic end up in landfills. We can also make sure to not buy products that have microbeads in them. Under President Obama, the Microbead-Free Waters Act was passed and it bans the manufacture of products such as cosmetics and toothpaste that contain plastic microbeads. This was a great step in the right direction and will hopefully reduce the amount of microbeads entering the environment. 
 On a lighter note, this week at CHV should be exciting as always and I bet we’ll have a bunch more, interesting captures!

Tight Lines!

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