GEO-6 Chapter 7: Oceans and Coasts

The economic, social and environmental costs of marine litter are continually increasing and include the direct economic costs of clean-up and loss of revenue from industries such as tourism and fishing ( unresolved ). Social and health costs are more difficult to quantify beyond local scales, as are environmental costs such as reduction in ecosystem function and services. {7.4.4}.

Plastic particles are increasingly being found in the digestive systems of marine organisms including fish and shellfish consumed by humans ( established but incomplete ). The human health risks of ingesting seafood contaminated with plastic are unclear. There is well-documented evidence of physical damage to marine organisms from both entanglement in marine litter and ingestion of plastic. Some plastic contains potential toxins and can also adsorb and concentrate toxic substances from the surrounding seawater. However, there is currently no evidence of serious toxic effects to marine biota from these pollutants. Marine litter can also provide a means of transport for the spread of pathogens and invasive species ( well established ). {7.4.4).


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