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Hundreds of Sharks Tangle in Oceans Plastic Waste

Almost 60 per cent of these animals were either lesser spotted dogfish, spotted ratfish or spiny dogfish

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The true number is likely to be far higher as few studies have focussed on plastic entanglement among shark and rays, said the researchers. Pixabay

Hundreds of sharks and rays are tangled in plastic waste in oceans across the world, researchers said.

According to the study published in the journal Endangered Species Research, scientists from the University of Exeter scoured existing published studies and Twitter for posts on shark and ray entanglements and found reports of more than 1,000 entangled individuals.

The true number is likely to be far higher as few studies have focussed on plastic entanglement among shark and rays, said the researchers.

“Due to threats of direct over-fishing of sharks and rays and ‘bycatch’ (accidental catching while fishing for other species), the issue of entanglement has perhaps gone a little under the radar,” said Brendan Godley, Professor at the University of Exeter.

Sharks, Oceans, Plastic Waste
Hundreds of sharks and rays are tangled in plastic waste in oceans across the world, researchers said. Pixabay

The research says such entanglement – mostly involving lost or discarded fishing gear – is a “far lesser threat” to sharks and rays than commercial fishing, but the suffering it causes is a major animal welfare concern.

In the study, researchers found reports of 557 sharks and rays entangled in plastic, spanning 34 species in oceans including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. Almost 60 per cent of these animals were either lesser spotted dogfish, spotted ratfish or spiny dogfish.

On Twitter, the researchers found 74 entanglement reports involving 559 individual sharks and rays from 26 species including whale sharks, great whites, tiger sharks and basking sharks.

Both data sources suggested “ghost” fishing gear (nets, lines and other equipment lost or abandoned) were by far the most common entangling objects. Other items included strapping bands used in packaging, polythene bags and rubber tyres.

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The study also identified factors such as habitat, migration and body shape that appear to put certain species more at risk. (IANS)

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Greenpeace Asks for Ambitious Measures from G20 Group to Tackle The Plastic Waste Crisis

The G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution

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Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
The commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague. Pixabay

Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change and to curb marine pollution ahead of the group’s summit in Osaka, western Japan, next week.

The environmental organization said the commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague, Greenpeace Japan experts told Efe news.

In a joint declaration adopted during the meeting, the G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution and reaffirmed the commitments made under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

“Voluntary actions are not enough to deal with such an urgent problem,” warned Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan, as he demanded “clear and mandatory actions”.

Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change. Pixabay

Ocean rubbish “is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods … and potentially on human health”, said a statement issued after the two-day meeting in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa.

The Japan government, which is the current chair of the G-20, described the agreement as “a major achievement” and recently launched several initiatives aimed at “exercising leadership” to tackle the pressing problem of ocean pollution, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

These include the development of biodegradable materials, the promotion of recycling and also requires retailers to charge customers for plastic bags from April 2020, while calling for an increased use of bioplastics made of renewable resources such as plants.

Greenpeace said “these are positive developments but could eventually generate side effects and they don’t deal with the underlying problem”. It added that it would be more appropriate to end the “linear, throwaway destructive business model”.

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Japan is the world’s second-largest generator of plastic waste per capita after the US, according to the UN. In 2018, it was the second-largest exporter of plastic waste, according to another Greenpeace report.

The environmental organization also urged Tokyo to “show real leadership” and take “much more ambitious measures” at the national level while pushing for a meaningful agreement within the framework of the G20 that goes in the direction of what was agreed to in Paris in 2016.

Japan is the only country in the G7 (the seven most industrialized nations) that continues to build coal plants and does not plan to get rid of them as recommended by the Paris Agreement, Greenpeace said. (IANS)