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'Tidal wave of garbage' threatening our future

A TIDAL wave of garbage is threatening world oceans, damaging wildlife, tourism and seafood industries and piling additional stress on seas already hit by climate change, according to conservationists.

A report by United States-based Ocean Conservancy detailed what it called a "global snapshot of marine debris" based on records of trash collected by nearly 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries and regions on a single day in September 2008.

More than 3 kilograms of garbage - the weight of 18 blue whales - was collected from oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways in the 2008 cleanup, the group said in its report "A Rising Tide Of Ocean Debris And What We Can Do About It."

It warned of a "tidal wave of ocean debris."

Topping the list of the 11.4 million items of garbage collected were cigarette butts, plastic bags, food wrappers and containers.

In the Philippines alone, 11,077 diapers were picked up.

More than 19,500 fishing nets were recovered in Britain.

"Our ocean is sick, and our actions have made it so," Vikki Spruill, president and chief executive of Ocean Conservancy, said.

"We simply cannot continue to put our trash in the ocean. The evidence turns up every day in dead and injured marine life, littered beaches that discourage tourists, and choked ocean ecosystems," she said. "By changing behaviors and policies, individuals, companies and governments can help improve the health of our ocean, the Earth's life-support system."

Detailing how refuse poisoned oceans and waterways, the report said that the waste entered the food chain, injured beach lovers and weakened economies by sapping precious dollars from tourism and seafood industries.

Thousands of animals, including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds and others, choked or were poisoned each year by eating trash, or drowned when they became tangled up in garbage.

The full report, including a country-by-country Marine Debris Index, is published at


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