From endangered freshwater dolphins drowned by discarded fishing nets to elephants scavenging through rubbish, migratory species are among the most vulnerable to plastic pollution, a UN report on the Asia-Pacific region said Tuesday, calling for greater action to cut waste.
Plastic particles have infiltrated even the most remote and seemingly-pristine regions of the planet, with tiny fragments discovered inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean and peppering Arctic sea ice.
The paper by the UN’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) focused on the impacts of plastic on freshwater species in rivers and on land animals and birds, which researchers said were often overlooked victims of humanity’s expanding trash crisis.
It said that because these creatures encounter different environments — including industrialised and polluted areas — they are likely at risk of higher exposure to plastics and associated contaminants.
Researchers cited estimates that 80 percent of the plastic that ends up in the oceans originates on land — with rivers thought to play a key role in carrying debris out to sea.