Pacific Ocean -- The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the
world's largest and most recently designated marine reserve (1), could be under threat from one of the world's largest floating rubbish dumps, according to the international environmental group Greenpeace. Pollution, especially plastic, is a growing global threat to the oceans, choking and trapping wildlife at sea and on land according to a Greenpeace report published today (2). Plastic is
gathered by ocean currents from around the North Pacific and endlessly circulates in the "Trash Vortex", an area that can grow to be the size of Texas, in the North Pacific gyre.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has recently departed Hawaii as part
ofthe Defending Our Oceans expedition (3). The recently declared
U.S. National Monument- the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands lies
close to this accumulationof trash, putting one of the most vital
links in the chain of oceans health atrisk.
"During the course of the Defending Our Oceans expedition, we
have seen coastlines covered in rubbish, but out at sea the problem
becomes even greater - with turtles, albatrosses and many other
marine creatures becoming entangled in floating plastic or even
choking on it," warned Greenpeace International scientist, Adam
Walters, onboard the Esperanza. "The danger to marine life has
been known for decades, but the scale of the problem has not been
realized. With plastic consumption rapidly increasing globally,
plastic has become ubiquitous in the ocean," added Walters.
The problem is a global one. "It is ironic that this debris ends
up floating past the largest marine reserve in the world," said
Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaigner Buffy Baumann. "While we applaud
the decision to designate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a
U.S. national monument, we need international action to create
properly protected marine reserves around the world. In order to
counter all the threats to the oceans - from pollution to
overfishing and habitat destruction - the world needs to realize
that ocean protection must begin on land." Baumann added.
Greenpeace is demanding that governments put in place a global
network of marine reserves, covering 40 percent of the world's
oceans. In addition, marine pollution will only be stopped if all
nations take responsibility for their excessive consumption and
adopt a "Zero Waste" plan including waste reduction and
(1) In June 2006, U.S. President George Bush designated the area
surrounding the Northwstern Hawaiian Island as a National
(2) The report on the global impact of plastic pollution in the
ocean can be downloaded here: http://oceans.greenpeace.org/plastic_ocean_report
(3)The Defending Our Oceans campaign is a 15-month expedition,
the biggest the organization has ever undertaken, to show the
threats to the oceans and outline a key solution of a global
network of marine reserves.
For further information, please contact:
Steve Smith, Greenpeace USA communications
Buffy Baumann, Greenpeace USA oceans Campaigner Adam Walters,
Greenpeace International Science Unit - all on the Esperanza on: +
47 514 079 87. Please note the Esperanza is currently GMT-9hrs.
Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International Communications, on +34 647
24 15 02
Photos & video are available on: Photo: +31 653 819 121,
Video: +31 653 504 721