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Macao Magazine 54

September 2019

Major rivers that run through countries such as China, India and Egypt contribute to more than 90 per cent of the plastic waste found in the oceans. Furthermore, the 2018 report stated that ‘if current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050’. For instance, in the North Pacific Ocean, between the west coast of North America and Japan, there is a growing collection of marine debris called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. This leviathan of floating trash is made up of plastic waste that’s been spat out by rivers or discarded from ships. As of last year, the size of the ‘patch’ was 1.6 million square kilometres – or about three times the size of France. Although the patch has identifiable plastic refuse, such as fridges and TV sets, it is almost entirely made up of degraded plastic called

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‘microplastics’ which can’t always be seen by the naked eye. And these are devastating for our oceans’ ecosystems.

Plastic Macao But what about closer to home? Macao could be in just as much deep water as the rest of the globe. Earlier this year, David Gonçalves, dean of the University of Saint Joseph’s Institute of Science and Environment, found, in a study done by a Master’s student, that Macao’s waters at Cheoc Van and Hac Sa beaches showed concentrations of around 800 microplastics per one litre of sediment – a measure that the dean says is ‘worrying’. Gonçalves – who notes that the impacts to marine life or human health are still not clear as more studies are needed to understand the physiological effects of

microplastics – also discovered that samples from the Sai Van Bridge area registered more than 1,700 microplastics per litre. “It has been demonstrated that as microplastics are ingested by small marine organisms, [they] enter the food chain,” says Gonçalves. “The consumption of marine products by humans is one way that microplastics get into our bodies. Also, microplastics adsorb chemical contaminants in the water and this is one further way they can harm the organisms that ingest them.” With regards to microplastics in the SAR’s waters, at the end of last month, Susana Wong, director of the Marine and Water Bureau, announced that by the end of the year, the authority will complete an investigation on the concentration of microplastics in the water. Macau Water also guaranteed that

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Macao Magazine September 2019  

We have found alarming figures on plastic waste over the course of putting together this issue: 160,000 plastic bags are used every second a...

Macao Magazine September 2019  

We have found alarming figures on plastic waste over the course of putting together this issue: 160,000 plastic bags are used every second a...