Sea junk ‘could pose threat to humans’

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A MARINE expert has warned the vast quantities of plastics littering the UK’s oceans are not only a danger to sea life but could also threaten humans.

Paul Rose, who presented BBC Two’s recent series Oceans, said plastic waste is an increasing problem and fears it could be having an impact on the food chain.

He said: “I’ve been diving the world’s oceans for over 40 years – and plastic waste is an increasing problem. It’s out there in the ecosystem, getting into the food chain, harming wildlife. And as a ‘top of the food chain’ predator myself, goodness knows what it might be doing to me.”

Mr Rose has visited Scarborough, Bempton, near Bridlington, and Newcastle for a BBC Inside Out programme to be broadcast this evening.

Up to 70 per cent of marine litter is plastic, with the vast majority of waste coming from the land. As plastic waste breaks down, it is consumed by fish, shellfish and birds with often dire consequences.

Mr Rose said: “In its raw form plastic is moved around the globe (on ships) as billions of tiny pellets that will be remoulded at a later date. And when these items find their way into our oceans you can see how easy it is for a fish or bird to mistake them for a tasty snack.” 

The programme includes a visit to the UK’s biggest mainland gannet colony at Bempton where the birds have learnt to live with the waste, lining their nests with netting and ropes. 

New European directives on marine waste are being introduced in 2016 but a study in Newcastle has shown this could come too late for some animals. The programme visits the Dove Marine Laboratory, near Newcastle, to illustrate the devastating effect plastic waste is having on bird populations.