The Maldives, a global tourist spot known for its snorkeling, scuba diving, and beaches, has the highest amount of microplastic pollution in its waters. The ubiquity of these plastics will affect its beaches, marine life, and livelihood of island communities.

Microplastics, waste that measures less than 5mm, is plastic that’s broken down over time and remains in the environment. Scientists recorded and compared the levels of plastic pollution in the area. Lead researcher Toby Patti of Flinders University, Australia, said, “The concentration of microplastics found on Naifaru in the Maldives (55 -1127.5 microplastics/kg) was greater than those previously found on a highly populated site at Tamil Nadu, India (3—611 microplastics/kg), and was a similar concentration to that found on inhabited and uninhabited elsewhere in the Maldives (197 -822 particles/kg).”

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Patti continued, “The majority of micro plastics found in our study were less than 0.4mm in width, so our results raise concerns about the potential for microplastic ingestion by marine organisms in the shallow coral reef system. The accumulation of microplastics is a serious concern for the ecosystem and the local community living off of these marine resources, and can have a negative impact on human health.”

The prevalence of the plastics and current waste management practices affects marine and human life in the area, according to Professor Karen Burke Da Silva, “Current waste management practices in the Maldives cannot keep up with population growth and the pace of development. The small island nation encounters several challenges regarding waste management systems and has seen a 58% increase of waste generated per capita on local islands in the last decade. Without a significant increase in waste reduction and rapid improvements in waste management, small island communities will continue to generate high levels of pollution in marine environments, with potential to negatively impact the health of the ecosystem, marine organisms, and local island communities.”

 

Source: NBC News/Youtube

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Despite these staggering numbers, the Maldives has actually taken steps to phase out single-use plastics by 2023. The president has also said that he takes his commitment to preserving biodiversity and protecting the climate seriously.

Read more about microplastics in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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