165 Million Plastic Particles Are Floating in Waters Surrounding New York City
By NY/NJ Baykeeper
NY/NJ Baykeeper has released the results from a plastic collection study detailing the sizes, types and concentrations of plastic pollution within New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary waters. The Harbor Estuary encompasses the Ports of New York and New Jersey, as far north as the Tappan Zee Bridge and as far south as Sandy Hook Bay. NY/NJ Baykeeper's results represent one of the first examinations of plastic pollution within waters surrounding New York City.
Our results are in! 165 MILLION #plastic particles present in NY-NJ Harbor waters! https://t.co/NwosBcugO5 https://t.co/WxDI5xerKv— NY/NJ Baykeeper (@NY/NJ Baykeeper)1455030764.0
Based on NY/NJ Baykeeper's estimates, at least 165 million plastic particles are floating within New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary waters at any given time. The average abundance of plastic particles is 256,322 per square kilometer.
Eighteen samples were collected from New York City and New Jersey waters including the East River, the Upper New York Bay, Newtown Creek, the Lower Harbor near Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the Passaic River, the Morris Canal, the Arthur Kill, the Lower Newark Bay and the Upper Newark Bay. Based on results from the sites sampled, the average plastic quantity per square kilometer from New York City samples was approximately twice the average of New Jersey samples.
“With a population of more than 8 million, New York City must take aggressive policy action like phasing out foam and plastic bags to reduce damage caused by plastic pollution," Sandra Meola, communications and outreach associate at NY/NJ Baykeeper, said. “Coupled with consumer education, legislation should be a priority, especially in the 'to-go' city. We can't keep using throwaway products that are used for a few minutes but take decades to break down."
Samples were collected using a net called a manta trawl, which is designed to collect floatable debris off the water's surface. The net is of the same specifications used by the 5 Gyres Institute for international ocean research and for the survey completed in the Great Lakes region by Dr. Sherri Mason.
“This ground-breaking initial study of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary continues the story that was started with our work in the Great Lakes. Plastic pollution is everywhere and the closer we get to the sources (us) the higher the counts," Dr. Sherri Mason, professor of chemistry at SUNY Fredonia, said. “Our science will continue, but the facts are clear: we must re-evaluate our relationship with this material. Single-use disposable plastics are a plague to our waters and therefore to our society, but fortunately it is one that is easily solved. We had life before plastic and I have full faith we can find a way to break our plastic addiction."
Plastics present in samples were categorized by size and type and then counted using a dissecting microscope. Categories included fragments, foam, line, pellets and film. The most abundant type of plastic present in samples was foam (38 percent). Approximately 85 percent of particles counted were microplastics. Microplastics are particles smaller than 5mm, about the size of a grain of rice. Microplastics are also considered by various experts to cause the most damage to aquatic life and habitat.
"We are beginning to see evidence of just how prevalent plastic pollution is in our waters. Plastic trash and debris, along with microplastics, are contaminating fish, birds, mammals, even plankton," Dave Conover, project partner and education director at Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, said. “By gathering more data, we can get a clearer picture of the sources of this pollution and create effective strategies to reduce it. We have a responsibility to get plastics out of our waters."
Moving forward, NY/NJ Baykeeper will continue collecting water column samples, with project partners and will collaborate with Environmental Protection Agency Region 2's Trash Free Waters Partnership to share and compare research and advocacy strategies. The Trash Free Waters Partnership is a group of New York and New Jersey stakeholders focused on reducing and eliminating plastic pollution.
Rutgers University's Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability is supporting the efforts of NY/NJ Baykeeper in their mission to remove plastic materials from the Harbor Estuary's water bodies. Dr. Beth Ravit, Rutgers University's Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability co-director, has been awarded a grant from the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute that sponsors further research with NY/NJ Baykeeper to determine the impact of microplastic particles in the freshwater reaches of the Raritan and Passaic Rivers.
“These studies will determine microplastic concentrations and analyze persistent organic contaminants associated with the plastic particles," Ravit said. "Dr. Keith Cooper of Rutgers will analyze the effects plastics and toxins pose to fish larvae."
NY/NJ Baykeeper's report also includes steps the public can take to refuse and eliminate plastic from everyday life including using reusable water bottles, bags and shopping in bulk at grocery stores. NY/NJ Baykeeper encourages the public to get involved in local shoreline cleanup efforts.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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