Plastic and microplastic litter: A serious problem in the Arctic Ocean

by Sherry P. Broder

East-West Wire

Publisher: Honolulu, HI: East-West Center
Publication Date: 28 August 2019
Binding: electronic
Pages: 2
Free Download: PDF


Plastic debris has been found throughout the Arctic marine environment—including shorelines, sea ice, surface and subsurface waters, the deep-sea floor, ocean sediments, and the atmosphere. A study prepared for the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in May 2019—Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Desktop Study on Marine Litter, including Microplastics in the Arctic—identified evidence that marine litter, including microplastics, enters the oceans from coastlines, rivers, tides, and marine sources. The study recommended that formal monitoring programs be established that cover all the sources, pathways, compartments, and impacts of marine litter and microplastics in the Arctic. Scientists do not fully understand how plastics, and particularly microplastics, affect marine animals or the human body, but plastics will remain a matter of great concern, not only in the Arctic, but also for the environment worldwide and for human health.