Plastic waste could soon outweigh all fish in oceans: UN chief

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Scavengers collect valuable waste at Sidoarjo garbage dump in East Java, on June 5, 2018. (Xinhua/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for individual and collective efforts to stem plastic pollution in oceans, warning that plastic waste could soon outweigh all the fish in the oceans.

Eighty percent of all pollution in the sea comes from land, including some 8 million tons of plastic waste each year, said Guterres in a message on World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8.

Plastic pollution chokes waterways, harms communities that depend on fishing and tourism, kills turtles and birds, whales and dolphins, and finds its way to the most remote areas of the planet and throughout the food chain on which we ultimately rely, he said. "Unless we change course, plastic waste could soon outweigh all the fish in the oceans."

The oceans make our blue planet unique in our solar system -- and not just visually. They help regulate the global climate and are the ultimate source of the water that sustains all life on Earth, from coral reefs to snow-covered mountains, from tropical rain forests to mighty rivers, and even deserts, he noted.

"However, the ability of the oceans to provide their essential services is being threatened by climate change, pollution and unsustainable use."

He called for individual and collective efforts to stop this preventable tragedy and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, including plastic. "Action starts at home, and speaks louder than words," he said.

Everyone needs to play a part. One can make a difference today -- and every day -- by doing simple things like carrying his own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags, recycling the plastic he buys, avoiding products that contain microplastics and volunteering for a local clean-up, he said.

"If we all do a little, our combined actions can be massive. On this World Oceans Day, I urge governments, communities and individuals alike to celebrate our oceans by helping clear them of pollution and ensure they remain vibrant for generations to come."