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The Problem of Plastic Pollution in Marine Environment

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The issues of marine environment have always become a hot topic among the marine people. Ocean, seas, estuaries, coastal, mangrove forest and all other major water bodies environment is considered as marine environment and have their important towards other life. So, whenever problems occur at these environments can be an issue as it will affect the ecosystem in the marine environment and thus affect the whole marine community. Across the globe, plastic pollution had become the hot crisis that was never had an end discussion. The high production of single-use plastic causes the increasing of unused plastic stranded in the ocean and other marine environment. According to UN environment (n.d), Chang Jiang (1469481 tons), Indus (164332 tons) and Huang He, known as Yellow River (124249 tons) are the top rivers that carried 90 percent of plastic waste in their water. Other marine environmental issues also include overexploited fisheries, improper discharge of waste, pollution by pesticides and fertilizers, oil spillage, global warming and many other things that is threat to the marine environment (Grip,2017). In Malaysia, the current hot issue is about the water problem that occur in Selangor. The water issues in Selangor is not a new issue but a same problem that always occurs due to pollution of improper waste discharge. Another water pollution case also rises in 2019, where Kim Kim River in Johor was polluted by toxic pollutants.

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Most of the marine environmental issues are caused by human activities whether in direct or indirect. Each of the marine environmental issues that arise give impacts towards the marine ecosystem, economy and local community. For example, pollution and overfishing will lead to decreasing in the number of fish available in the ocean due to death and short time of reproduction. This problem will be a crisis in fisheries sector where there will be limited number of fish, thus can affect the economy of a country. Besides, the marine ecosystem itself can also be affected. This is because when there is any disturbance in the ecosystem especially when it affects the keystone species, it will alter the whole ecosystem as every organism has link with other organism in the ecosystem. For example, when sea otter dead due to pollution or chocked with plastic, the number of sea otter in that area will decrease, thus it will promote sea urchin to overgraze kelp and destroy the kelp forest community in that area. Improper waste discharge can also affect the marine ecosystem where the accumulation of nutrient can boost the growth of eutrophication and promote the occurrence of dead zone area. According to NOAA (2020), the northern Gulf of Mexico had already identified as the second largest red zone in the world. Next, marine environmental issues can also give impacts to the local community. For example, sea level rise that occur due to global warming had erode 40 percent of the Florida’s beaches and affect the community there.

Marine environment is the vast body of water that covers 71 percent of the earth's coverage, consists of many different subsystems such as corals, seagrass, mangrove and many more. They provide many services and values for human being and marine organisms. So, it is a need to know about the marine environmental issues and aware of the solution or mitigation to reduce the problems. Among all the marine environmental issues, the most concern issue was the plastic pollution issue. This contaminant comes from both land-based and sea-based, and there are many entrances that let this contaminant enter the marine environment. The accumulation of plastic and other debris is considered as human-created and give big threat especially in the marine ecosystem. Due to some unique characteristic of the plastic, plastic litter and microplastic are the most persistent contaminants in marine environment compared to the other debris such as glass, wood, rubber, paper and many more. Due to long period of time to be degrade, plastic has the potential of ready transportation with the help of wind and water current. The accumulated plastics in the ocean basins can be broadly classified into four levels based on their sizes: megaplastics, macroplastics, mesoplastics, and microplastics. Microplastics are found in commonly manufactured, commercial products such as personal care and cosmetic products or microplastic particles produce from in-situ environmental degradation and subsequent fragmentation of larger size plastics by physical, chemical, and biological processes. Microplastics are mostly abundant in marine and coastal systems, while synthetic pollutants chemically interact with organic pollutants and metals. The density of microplastics also affects the distribution of microplastics in the water column. Accordingly, microplastic pollutants are widely distributed in every sub-zone/layer (pelagic and benthic) of coastal and marine systems.

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The Problem of Plastic Pollution in Marine Environment. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“The Problem of Plastic Pollution in Marine Environment.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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The Problem of Plastic Pollution in Marine Environment [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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