For several decades it has been known that plastics in the marine environment can harm marine organisms, most visibly birds, turtles and mammals (Shomura and Yoshida, 1985). These animals can become entangled in this synthetic debris and can ingest macro- and micro-plastics. Recently, increased awareness of plastic fragmentation into small persistent particles (‘plastic soup’) and the potential chemical hazards from ingestion have heightened the concern regarding the chemical impact on the marine food chains and ultimately the consequences for humans as end consumers (UNEP, 2011). UNEP listed plastic debris in the oceans as one of the three main emerging issues of concern for the global environment. Within the framework of the Commission for the Convention of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) there has been attention to beached litter and seal entanglements, but little systematic work on the ingestion of plastic materials has been done.
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