Marine debris: a proximate threat to marine sustainability in Bootless Bay, Papua New Guinea

Stephen D A Smith
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 64 (9): 1880-3
Surveys of stranded marine debris around Motupore Island, a small island in Bootless Bay, Papua New Guinea, revealed exceptionally high loads (up to 78.3 items m(-2)), with major concentrations in mangrove-dominated, depositional areas. The worst affected, 50-m stretch of shore was estimated to contain >37.000 items with a combined weight of 889 kg. Consistent with studies elsewhere, plastics comprised by far the majority of debris across all sites (89.7%). The lack of centralised waste collection and limited village-based resources, coupled with an increasing population, suggests that this issue is a long way from solution. High debris loads thwart attempts to rehabilitate depleted mangrove forests through smothering of seedlings, perpetuating run-off and water quality issues in the bay. Addressing marine debris is thus of fundamental importance for the sustainability of Bootless Bay and its resources, and a critical step in promoting ecosystem resilience.

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