FACT: There will soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Current estimates are that by 2050, single use plastic and commercial plastics will outnumber actual marine life, due to a triple whammy of:
• Our insatiable need to quench our thirst and fill our gobs ‘on the go’, creating a ‘need’ for 8 billion bottles to be made each year.
• Overfishing and finding commercial value in ocean life we shouldn’t be interested in, but form the basis of life in the ocean, from krill fishing to shark finning/apex predator.
• Climate change, fossil fuel use, and all of that complex web that is leaving the planet wondering “What the hell is going on!?” and trying to cope with our aftermath.
We care a helluva lot about this. I’m sure you do too.
I am a passionate campaigner for the health of the ocean. In particular, I am on a rampage against single use plastic marine debris. Previously, I’ve cleaned entire beaches and I regularly participate in great Aussie initiatives like Seaside Scavenge, Strawkeling and Take 3 for the Sea.
Everyone on ROAM is the same- I reckon water pollution makes all our blood boil.
Recently, I came face-to-face with this marine debris problem in Tahiti. ROAM is anchored just south of Papeete, near a channel not too far from the shore.
A Day We Saw The Wave of Crap
I love a good snorkel so I spent an afternoon alone checking out the nearby coral bombies. The underwater life here is EPIC. Tropical fish of every kind, mingling around corals of every colour. The scenery constantly changing and revealing more magic. I’m my happiest when swimming and diving through these delicate areas.
As I was snorkelling, a rainstorm passed over the island. As I finished my snorkel sesh and started swimming back to ROAM, I swam right into a HUGE current of plastic trash. Bottles were everywhere, in orders of magnitude than the schools of fish I just saw 10 minutes earlier.
I was swimming in the tonnes of rubbish that had been tossed from cars along the main road just a few hundred metres away.
Bottles, styrofoam, food packaging - all of it had been transported by a flash flood, down the gutters and into the water world. Out of sight, out of mind.
Part time Sailor, part time Ocean Garbage Collector
I still had my fins and mask on, so I got to work collecting the rubbish. Liss, Baz and Marie were also out for a surf and returning on the dinghy, collecting what they could on the way back.
After swimming for a good hour, collecting and collecting putrid, manky bottles, styrofoam and packaging, I scrubbed my skin and my hair and sat.
Sat thinking about what that experience meant.
Will any of that natural underwater magic of the coral bombies be there in the future, if we keep dousing the place with oil, plastic, and other toxic crap?
I came to the conclusion that it’s likely not. The reefs will die. The colourful fish will choke. The ecosystem will crumble under the strain of LDPE, PP, HDPE, PVC, ABS and straight up petroleum.
Visualising the future
I look at Fishes Field Guides to help identify fish I see. This sparked an idea.
I photographed and photoshopped each piece I found. I imagined what a Fishes ID Guide would look like in a near future of no fish, just plastic.
Here is the result - the 2029 Tropical Fishes Guide to the Pacific Ocean.
I would love for this poster to go far and wide to spark change in our accelerating use of single-use plastic.
Please download the PDF here to have a good read of the detail.
Print and pop it up at your local main street, or send it to your local newspaper.
Share this blog on your socials.
Lobby Coca Cola Amatil, Mars, Nestle and the rest of the big guys that produce billions of these bottles annually.
Let’s see what we can do together - we all know a world of tropical fish is so much more brilliant and wonderful than the alternative.