A hitchhiker’s guide to floating marine debris

A hitchhiker’s guide to floating marine debris

Invasive species are recognised as one of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity worldwide, second only to habitat loss, and cost the UK economy £120 million a year.

But the threat to UK waters could be reduced as pioneering research led by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and funded by Defra sheds new light on invasive species ‘hitchhiking’ across the sea on floating marine debris, such as plastics. In some cases, certain species are thought to have travelled from as far as the east coast of America, thousands of miles away.

By adapting a computer model originally designed to predict the distribution of oil following an oil spill, Cefas scientists were able to uncover the origin of floating marine debris and track how invasive species enter UK waters.

With 80% of marine debris made up of marine plastics, and over 800 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans each year, this research reiterates the importance of tackling global plastic pollution, supporting calls from Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey at the UN Conference of Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 last year for greater ambition and support to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030.

Read more at .gov.uk