Marine debris or marine litter refers to any human-made solid materials that are directly disposed into the marine environment.
These can range from from straws to washing machines. According to the Ocean Conservancy, cigarette butts are the most commonly found marine debris at beaches followed by food wrappers and plastic beverage bottles.
While the marine debris at beaches are obvious and can be easily removed, debris floating on the ocean surface or submerged within a water column pose a more insidious danger to our ecosystem, marine wildlife and at the end of the food chain, us, humans.
Marine debris can also injure coral reefs and bottom-dwelling species. Marine wildlife such as turtles could mistakenly ingest or entangled within marine debris.
In fact, the economy will be affected by marine debris. The tourist industry will be driven away, property prices plummet and local authorities will be burdened with cleaning costs should a beach is found to be in an unsightly condition.
It is known that most marine debris is composed of plastic which does not decompose. While they do break down after coming into contact with the sun, plastics continue to cause invisible problem in the form of microplastics.
These particles can ingested by marine species, and when it slowly works its way up in the food chain, will indirectly impact human health.
It is evident that marine debris impacts everyone, no matter whether development or nature is your priority. We show this through the game: when marine debris is concerned, everyone loses.