Cut Down on Plastic Pollution in Aquaculture Industry


Target: Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Undersecretary of Commerce for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Goal: Reduce flow of plastics used in aquaculture into marine ecosystems

The rise in sustainable ocean fisheries represents a welcome turn toward more responsible use of our natural resources. Yet, when it comes to sustainably farmed seafood, what’s still unaccounted for is the prodigious amount of plastic flowing into marine ecosystems in the form of floats, nets, lines and tubes used in aquaculture. Such plastic equipment can escape into the water by any number of ways. Violent storms can easily tear plastic buoys from their moorings, and it is unknown exactly how much other plastic equipment simply becomes lost at sea or floats away. Once loose and swept up in strong ocean currents, such plastics are difficult to remove. Some may even dissolve, leaving behind chemicals. Such plastic pollution endangers marine animals. However, currently no regulations exist to hold governments or industry organizations accountable for this pollution.

The toll of our “plastic footprint” weighs heavy on marine life. Mistaking plastic debris for their natural food, many animals including fish and birds choke to death or ingest harmful toxins that damage their internal organs. For instance, the lantern fish, a staple for the tuna, salmon and other fish we consume, eats large amounts of plastic fragments, meaning those synthetic chemicals can then enter our bodies.

In order to stem the flow of plastics into marine ecosystems, current sustainable seafood standards need updating.  Governments and industry organizations must be required to account for the plastics accidentally released into the ocean, ensuring no plastic from cages, buoys, or other equipment used in aquaculture makes its way into ocean waters. While such a regulation would not rein in our high consumption of plastic materials, the driving force behind this pollution, it would mean cleaner waters and improved ecosystem health all around.

Please sign the petition below in support of caring for our world’s oceans and all the life they sustain.


Dear Dr. Sullivan,

I am writing in regards to the recent rise in availability of sustainably farmed seafood. While this trend marks a much-needed turn toward better management of our natural resources, I urge you to consider the tons of plastic flowing into marine ecosystems in the form of floats, nets, lines, and tubes used in the aquaculture industry.

Such plastic pollution endangers marine animals, many of which in mistaking plastic fragments for their natural food, risk choking to death or experiencing damage to their internal organs. However, currently no regulation exists to stop plastic equipment used in aquaculture from making its way into ocean waters. I ask that you lead the way in requiring industry organizations to stop the accidental release of these plastics into marine ecosystems. Please help to prioritize this action, so that we can end the flow of plastics into our oceans once and for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Thue via Wikimedia Commons

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