The largest ocean on earth is also home to the largest collection of floating rubbish/garbage which scientists have coined "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch".
The statistics about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch provide terrifying reading and are summarised by the National Geographic in a recent online article that can be found here. The article explains that the floating garbage weighs 79,000 tonnes and is predominantly plastics originating from both land based (80%) and ocean based activities (20%), includes discarded fishing gear, waste from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and perhaps most worryingly contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic of which microplastics comprise 94%.
One of the solutions to this horrendous human made problem is for each country to regulate and control littering and the failure to responsibly dispose of household and consumer waste. In this 3rd legal bulletin in this Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series, we consider Fiji's legal framework to regulate and control littering.
While outside the scope of this legal bulletin we acknowledge that:
- other regulatory and innovative solutions must be found globally to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics and find other more environmentally friendly consumer packaging
- Pacific Islands are not the main cause of this global issue
- Responsible consumer choices and manufacturing choices are required
- Fiji has started using innovative mechanisms to discourage the use of plastics like introducing a charge for single use plastic bags.