The Mediterranean Sea is quickly turning into a dangerous “plastic trap” with record levels of pollution from micro- and macro-plastics threatening marine species and human health, according to a new report by conservation group WWF.
The report says that up to 300,000 tons of plastic ends up in the Mediterranean every year, and it identifies Turkey as the main culprit, followed by Spain, Italy, Egypt, France, Algeria and Greece.
Apart from the impact on marine life, experts warn that Mediterranean pollution has a serious impact on fishing and tourism. It is estimated that marine litter costs the European fishing sector an annual 61.7 million euros as a result of reduced catch revenues, damage to equipment, and consumer concern about the quality of fish.
Meanwhile, coastal towns have to allocate significant resources for beach cleanups. Authorities in Nice, southeast France spend an estimated 2 million euros per year in coastline cleaning operations.
WWF called for immediate measures to contain Mediterranean pollution, including an international ban on single-use plastic. It also urged consumers to opt for products made of biodegradable materials, instead of plastics, and to avoid disposable products.