California, also known as the golden state, is commonly associated with beautiful beaches, water sports, great food, and KILLER sunsets; but in recent years California has slowly drifted away from that stereotype and turned it's attention to one of the states greatest problems, pollution. Today we're going to be taking a look at how plastic pollution is affecting the coastal waters off of California, and what's being done to mitigate the rise in pollution as a whole.
California Plastic Bag Ban
On November 8th, 2016 the voters of California approved Proposition 67, which effectively bans all Single-use carryout bags throughout the entre state of California. The ban of single-use plastic bags has not only decreased the amount of pollution found across the state, but has also saved countless marine lives. Within the first year of this ban being implemented, California saw an estimated decrease in plastic bag pollution by 72% and amongst all pollutants collected by clean up crews; plastic bags only made up roughly 1.5% of all litter collected.
California Ocean Litter Prevention Strategy
The California Ocean Litter Prevention Strategy is a joint effort by the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and the NOAA Marine Debris Program to aide in the total elimination of pollutants entering the California water ways.
The first objective of this strategy is to develop a better understanding of the most prominent land-based litter and research how this litter makes its way into California water ways; then with the support of environmental groups and non-government organization they aim to lobby for stricter mandates on these prominent pollutants. Their second objective is to further learn and discover the affects that microplastics (MPs) and Microfibers have on coastal and in-land water ways. This research is then used to aid in support of current environmental legislation.
The Affects Plastic Pollution Has On Marine Life
When plastic pollutants enter water ways they slowly degrade and break down over a set period of time; even though these plastics have degraded and broke down they leave behind millions of tiny micro plastics floating in the ocean, that are then consumed by various species of marine life. Though a significant threat microplastics are not the only form of pollution that are wreaking havoc on marine life. Things such as fishing nets, trash bags, pool liners, and all sorts of other debris we wouldn't expect to be in our ocean, are being ingested by sea turtles, seabirds, fish, and marine mammals; ultimately killing them through suffocation or entanglement. Though there have been many organizations and laws put into place to mitigate the annual marine death rate, pollutants still continue to make their way into our waterways every year killing thousands upon thousands of species.
Though the state of California has made great efforts to mitigate the effects of pollutants making their way into our waterways; there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done to ensure the preservation of marine life for generations to come.