Floating marine debris in coastal waters of the SE-Pacific (Chile)

M Thiel, I Hinojosa, N Vásquez, E Macaya
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2003, 46 (2): 224-31
Herein we report on the abundance and composition of floating marine debris (FMD) in coastal waters of the SE-Pacific (off the Chilean coast) during the austral summer 2002. The observed FMD consisted mainly of plastic material (86.9%). Densities of FMD were highest between 20 degrees S and 40 degrees S, corresponding to the main concentrations of human population and activities. Low densities of FMD were found in the south between 40 degrees S and 50 degrees S (<1 item km(-2)). Generally, the highest densities were recorded in nearshore waters of major port cities (>20 items km(-2)), but occasionally high concentrations of debris were also found 50 km offshore. Densities of FMD in coastal waters of the SE-Pacific are of similar magnitudes as those found in coastal waters or inland seas of highly populated regions in the northern hemisphere, indicating the need for improved regulation and legislation in the countries of the SE-Pacific.

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