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WWF calls for global treaty to stop plastic pollution after research uncovers plastic in new amphipod

WWF is calling for a global treaty on plastic pollution after plastic particles were found inside a new amphipod discovered in Asia by scientists

This newly discovered amphipod, dubbed Eurythenes plasticus, was found with plastic in its body
This newly discovered amphipod, dubbed Eurythenes plasticus, was found with plastic in its body

Research has uncovered the presence of plastic in a new species of deep-sea amphipod which has been discovered in one of the deepest places on earth.

The amphipod - known informally as a “hopper” - was discovered by researchers from Newcastle University in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench between Japan and the Philippines.

The researchers officially named the species ‘Eurythenes plasticus’ in reference to the plastic (polyethylene terephthalate) found in its body. 

The research was supported by WWF and published today in the renowned scientific journal Zootaxa.

Heike Vesper, Director of the Marine Programme at WWF Germany, said: “The newly discovered species Eurythenes plasticus shows us how far-reaching the consequences of our inadequate handling of plastic waste truly is. There are species living in the deepest, most remote places on earth which have already ingested plastic before they are even known about by humankind. Plastics are in the air that we breathe, in the water that we drink and now also in animals that live far away from human civilization.”

Dr. Alan Jamieson, head of the research mission at Newcastle University, UK, said: “We decided on the name Eurythenes plasticus as we wanted to highlight the fact that we need to take immediate action to stop the deluge of plastic waste into our oceans.”

Plastic waste exports frequently end up in Southeast Asia, where waste management is often insufficient or non-existent. Because most of the plastic waste cannot be recycled, it will often get burned or dumped at repositories instead. From there it finds its way into rivers and, ultimately, into the ocean. Once in the water, plastic waste breaks apart into microplastics and is often ingested by marine animals.

Each year an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans – the equivalent to a truckload of plastic every minute. In order to tackle this devastating problem, WWF is running an international campaign calling for a global legally binding treaty to reduce plastic waste, improve waste management and end marine plastic pollution.

This includes a petition where supporters can call on their governments to commit to working towards an international, legally binding treaty. It has already secured signatures from more than 1.6 million people across the world. 

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