Best of our wild blogs: 23 Apr 15

Checking up on Giant clams at Pulau Jong
wild shores of singapore

Monitoring our giant clams on Singapore’s reefs
Neo Mei Lin

"Happy Earth Day" on Pulau Jong
Psychedelic Nature

The Short-tailed Babbler in Singapore
Francis' Random Yaks, Articles & Photos

Common Mynas foraging on seagrass meadow
Bird Ecology Study Group

Green Your Kitchen for Earth Day and Earth Week!
Green Drinks Singapore

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Bukit Batok West residents bugged by beetles

Kimberly Spykerman Channel NewsAsia 22 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE: Some residents in Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 have had to cope with unusual visitors over the past month. They have found large numbers of beetles in their homes, and are puzzled as to where they came from.

One resident, Ms Shirley Ng, shared footage of hundreds of beetles at a common area near for her HDB block. The critters tend to appear mostly at the void decks and along common corridors, but have also entered residents' homes.

Mdm S Neo told Channel NewsAsia: "We thought that it was bed bugs, because there's a lot of bugs on the bed. So we threw away the soft toys and changed the mattresses, and bought new mattresses. In the end we realised from the neighbours it wasn't bed bugs because they saw it in their house as well."

Another resident, Ms Jaclyn Tan said: "There's actually hordes of them flying into the house. It's not really a big problem if you ask me. You have to pick them up and throw them out, sweep more often. I don't know where they came from."

The Jurong Town Council said it first received feedback about the insects from residents of Block 170 to 173 two weeks ago. It said it acted immediately and combed the area surrounding the affected blocks, including trees, roof tops, and open spaces.

"Although our search was extensive, we did not detect any source or breeding grounds in the areas under our management. We have also sought‎ assistance from HDB and other agencies on this issue," general manager at the town council Ho Thian Poh said. The beetles seem to be "attracted mainly to the lights at night", he stated.

JTC sent a beetle specimen to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. Mr Ho said a photo of the bug was sent to the National University of Singapore's Department of Biological Sciences as well, and they had indicated that the beetles are not harmful.

"They stated that the beetles do not possess a sting so they are not able to sting people and a large majority of beetles are not known to transmit or carry disease,” Mr Ho added.

- CNA/hs

Mystery critters bug Bukit Batok by the thousand
My Paper AsiaOne 23 Apr 15;

Recently, countless black winged bugs have been swarming into three blocks of flats in Bukit Batok every evening only to drop dead, leaving huge, creepy piles for the residents to clear and sparking fears that their bite might be dangerous.

The bugs belong to a yet undetermined species and are no bigger than a grain of rice.

They have unfailingly turned up in swarms every day after nightfall since two weeks ago at blocks 170, 171 and 172 in Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

According to resident Chen Jiajing, 76, the bugs first appeared last year at the blocks, but only in small numbers.

He is mystified as to why they suddenly came in such huge numbers.

The retiree told the newspaper that the bugs would swarm in after 7pm every evening. Most of them would then form a black circling mass around lamps at the void decks.

"They would cluster around the lights until they drop to the floor, where they would crawl for a bit before they die," he said.

Mr Chen, whose home is on the 12th floor of Block 171, said some of the bugs would fly into his unit, numbering more than a hundred on each occasion.

Housewife Candy Tan, 56, who lives on the 24th floor of Block 170, said she had the "worst" encounter on Saturday, when she estimated more than a thousand flew into her house.

Their remains filled up a third of a paper bag, said Ms Tan.

According to cleaner Alani, who cleans the area, the amount of dead bugs he collects in half an hour could fill three plastic bags.

Mr Chen said he had never seen this sort of bug before, not even in his days living in a kampung.

"It feels itchy when it lands on you," he said.

Xu Lizhu, a resident of Block 170, said she was once bitten by one of the bugs while watching television. But she experienced no swell nor any lump, although the bite was painful.

Ms Liang, another resident, said the bugs not only enter her living room, but also the toilets and bedrooms, with some landing on the beds.

Initially thinking these were the usual bed bugs and fearing that they would bite her daughter, she immediately changed the bedsheet.

Then she became worried when she saw that the bugs kept growing in numbers and, after checking a lampshade where they tended to crowd around, she realised they had come from outside.

The Jurong Town Council, which oversees the area's environment, said it had conducted searches in the vicinity of the blocks after receiving complaints, but did not find the breeding ground of the bugs.

"We had looked everywhere, including the woods, rooftops and cleared spaces," it said.

The town council has sent samples of the bugs to be studied and has sought the help of the Housing Board, National Parks Board and National Environment Agency in tackling the problem.

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MPA signs S$2.4b deal for Tuas Terminal Phase 1 works

Channel NewsAsia 23 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Thursday (Apr 23) signed a S$2.42 billion agreement with Dredging International Asia Pacific-Daelim Joint Venture for works on Tuas Terminal Phase 1.

Under the agreement, the contractors will dredge the waters, construct the wharves and reclaim 294 hectares of land. The project will also tap the capabilities of local companies. The deal was signed during the MPA's inaugural Singapore Maritime Technology Conference on Thursday.

Works had started on Feb 28 this year, and the project is expected to be completed by Dec 27, 2020. This is the first contract awarded for the Tuas project, which is part of the country's efforts to consolidate its port activities in Tuas.

Speaking at the event, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo announced a series of initiatives that MPA will roll out to leverage on technology and R&D to raise productivity and strengthen Singapore's maritime sector.

MPA will be launching a series of calls for proposal to cover new areas for potential research and test-bedding of technology solutions under its Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund. The first call for proposal will be launched in June this year.

The agency will also extend its Green Technology Programme by another 5 years until 2021 and commit another S$25 million to it. The programme was first launched in 2011.

Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA, said: "The conference provides a platform for maritime experts and the industry to come together to share how port and maritime R&D and technology can be leveraged to sustain our competitive edge."

- CNA/kk

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New drone to give MPA better view of oil spills

Adrian Lim The Straits Times AsiaOne 23 Apr 15;

THE Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) expects to soon have an extra pair of "eyes" to assess oil spills at sea, in the form of a drone which can be deployed from its patrol boats.

The authority is working with local engineering firm Hope Technik to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is waterproof and can take off from and land on water. In flight, the drone will be able to "see" for at least 150m around the vessel to which it is tethered.

"Using the UAV, we can have a comprehensive overview of the extent of the oil spill, and we can deploy our craft in a more efficient manner," said Captain Daknash Ganasen, port master and deputy director of marine operations at the MPA. "From the surface, you have a limited line of sight, but with a UAV you can see further."

A prototype of the UAV was unveiled yesterday at the International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference and Exhibition 2015 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Development of the drone, called the Water Spider, started last year and it will undergo trials at sea soon. Hope Technik expects it to be ready by the third quarter of the year. The drone will cost at least $10,000.

The firm's project director, Mr Ng Kiang Loong, said the Water Spider's flying algorithm allows it to fly in gusty winds of up to 20 knots, or 10m per second. A typical drone can fly in winds of up to only 15 knots.

Being able to launch from and land on water is also important, Mr Ng said. Drones require a vertical height clearance of about 5m to take off, and on most vessels, this is obstructed by antennae and masts.

It will be equipped with two cameras - a regular one with a 10x zoom and another with thermal imaging, allowing it to operate into the night. Singapore Oil Spill Response Centre general manager Bas Wiebe said drones can be deployed quickly.

"Overflights by fixed-wing (aircraft) and helicopters sometimes are restrictive because of air space control. Singapore is a small country and you enter quite quickly into your neighbour's airspace. You may need clearances," he said.

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said the UAV is a part of Singapore's push to be a leader in maritime safety.

The MPA has also started a near-miss reporting system. "For every incident that has happened, there could be several near-misses before that point... We want to understand if it's a risk relating to passageway or human error," Mr Tan said.

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Malaysia: Sarawak passes Forests Bill, ups penalties to RM1mil fine and 10 years' jail

SHARON LING The Star 22 Apr 15;

KUCHING: Timber thieves will face heftier fines and jail terms when a new Forests Ordinance comes into force in Sarawak.

Among others, the illegal export of logs under the Forests Bill 2015 is punishable by a fine of RM100,000 to RM500,000 and up to five years' imprisonment, or a fine of up to RM1mil and 10 years' jail for subsequent offences.

Those guilty of not paying royalties or fees will be fined not less than RM25,000, jailed up to a year and ordered to pay the government a sum of not less than 10 times the royalty or fee chargeable on the timber in question.

Previously, the penalty for illegally exporting logs was imprisonment of between one and five years and a RM50,000 fine, while that for revenue offences was one year's jail and a fine of RM2,000.

The Bill was passed by the State Legislative Assembly Wednesday to repeal and replace the existing Forests Ordinance 1953.

It follows the crackdown on illegal logging and corruption in the timber industry announced by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem some months ago.

Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who tabled the Bill, said it was aimed to eliminate illegal logging and to promote sustainable forest management.

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Malaysia: There’s something fishy in the water, say residents

R.S.N. MURALI The Star 23 Apr 15;

MALACCA: Thousands of dead tilapia fish have been found floating along the Malacca River near Kampung Enam by the city centre here.

The dead fish were found floating along a 3km-long stretch of the river and preliminary checks showed the cause to be poisoning.

State Housing, Local Government and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ismail Othman said the report from the Department of Environment on the incident would be discussed at the exco meeting today.

He said tests conducted on water samples showed the river’s pH scale and oxygen level to be normal.

On Tuesday, residents living along the riverbank complained about a strong stench due to the dead fish that were clogging up the river from Kampung Enam to Bachang,.

A resident named Latipah Abdul Wahab, 44, said the stench was unbearable.

“I could not even cook for the whole day because of the strong smell,” she said.

Special officer under the Development and Programme Co-ordination of Kesidang state constituency Harun Ali said it was the first time such an incident happened near the area.

“I believe it was caused by hazardous material that was discharged into the river by irresponsible individuals,” he said.

Workers from several government agencies were roped in to clear the fish carcasses and almost 95% of the affected area was cleared by 4.30pm yesterday.

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Malaysia: Sun Bear loses its bearings in Sungai Besar

DINA MURAD The Star 22 Apr 14;

PETALING JAYA: For one week, the villagers of Kampung Simpang 3 Logi, Sg Besar in Selangor played host to a very unusual guest - an adult Malayan Sun Bear.

The 70kg female had lost her bearings from her home in a nearby jungle and ended up wandering around the village for about a week.

The bear was spotted by villages in various locations and in a particularly melancholy snapshot, was pictured standing alone contemplating life in an open paddy field.

"We received a report on April 16 from a member of the public who informed us about the bear," said Selangor Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Abd Rahim Othman.

He explained that the bear was not aggressive and had mostly shied away from people.

"Wild animals would not act aggressively unless provoked. If it saw someone, it would run away," he told The Star Online.

On Tuesday, officers from the state Perhilitan successfully managed to subdue the bear at the aforementioned paddy field and released it back into the wild.

"At first, we tried to set a trap but after a few fruitless days, we used a tranquilliser instead," he said, and added that the bear was in good health and was sent to the Terengganu National Park on Wednesday.

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Coral Triangle key part of $24tn global ocean wealth

Johnny Langenheim The Guardian 23 Apr 15;

The world’s coral reefs are a key part of $24tn (£16tn) global ocean wealth but may disappear by 2050 if global warming continues at the current rate, a new report by Worldwide Fund for Nature warns. It states the world’s ocean assets are worth $24tn, pointing out that were the ocean a country, its GDP would rank seventh in the world.

In south-east Asia’s Coral Triangle bioregion alone, 120 million people rely on reefs for their livelihoods and about 500 million worldwide. Combined with rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification is expected to irreparably damage many other marine ecosystems, while 90% of fisheries worldwide are either fully exploited or overexploited, the report says. In economic terms, this amounts to a potentially catastrophic degradation of assets.

Produced in association with the Global Change Institute (GCI) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the report says that the ocean is an economy that is failing thanks to climate change, overexploitation of natural resources and pollution.

Analysis by lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of GCI and his colleagues indicates 70% of the ocean’s economic productivity relies on healthy ecosystems: fish need healthy habitats in order to grow and reproduce. But anthropogenic climate change has already created more than 400 identifiable ‘dead zones,’ where oxygen content is extremely low. The report boldly states, ‘failure to solve the climate change problem will defeat attempts to bring sustainable practices to fisheries across the world.’

Though the existing situation looks grave, WWF sets out an eight-point plan that it claims will, if rigorously implemented, ‘restore ocean assets to their full potential.’ Chief among these are three priorities: a concerted global effort to avert serious climate change, urgent protection of habitat and making ocean conservation a key sustainable development goal in the UN’s post-2015 agenda, which launches in September.

WWF is calling for an immediate commitment by coastal countries to conserve and sustainably manage 10% of the world’s coastal and marine areas, rising to 30% by 2020. But such decisions will require international coordination. “That’s the nature of the marine environment – it’s the connectivity that makes regional collaborative arrangements so important,” says John Tanzer, director of the Global Marine Programme. “Because no single country can deal with an issue like major declines in coral reefs and fisheries alone.”

Tanzer cites the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries & Food Security (CTI-CFF) – a multilateral partnership between the six Coral Triangle countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste) and NGO partners – as an example of regional cooperation. “It’s politically complex, but the Coral Triangle is such a vital resource to all of these countries. Ocean health is absolutely critical for them.”

While climate change looms large in the picture, we need to reduce other environmental stresses to a minimum so as to mitigate its impact, according to Tanzer. “Climate change at some level is inevitable – so the capacity of the marine environment to function will depend on its overall resilience.”

Protecting high value but densely populated bioregions like the Coral Triangle is a challenge WWF is keen to address. “Habitat protection in remote areas is positive of course, but the difficult path is to get that level of protection systematically implemented where it will make a difference for people in terms of health, education, food security and political stability.”

Ocean output rivals big nations' GDP, but resources eroding
Alister Doyle PlanetArk 23 Apr 15;

Ocean output rivals big nations' GDP, but resources eroding Photo: DANI CARDONA
Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain August 20, 2006.

Economic output by the world's oceans is worth $2.5 trillion a year, rivaling nations such as Britain or Brazil, but marine wealth is sinking fast because of over-fishing, pollution and climate change, a study said on Thursday.

"The deterioration of the oceans has never been so fast as in the last decades," Marco Lambertini, director general of the WWF International conservation group, told Reuters of the study entitled "Reviving the Ocean Economy".

Ocean output, judged as a nation, would rank seventh behind the gross domestic product of Britain and just ahead of Brazil's on a list led by the United States and China, the study said.

The report, by WWF, the Global Change Institute at Queensland University in Australia and the Boston Consulting Group, estimated that annual "gross marine product" (GMP) was currently worth $2.5 trillion.

That included fisheries, coastal tourism, shipping lanes and the fact that the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the air, helping to slow global warming. The study did not estimate the rate of decline in GMP.

Lambertini said the report aimed to put pressure on governments to act by casting the environment in economic terms and was a shift for the WWF beyond stressing threats to creatures such as turtles or whales.

"It's not just about wildlife, pretty animals. It is about us," he said.

The report, for instance, values carbon dioxide absorbed from the air at $39 per tonne, drawing on estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to judge damage from warming such as more flooding or risks to human health.

The study estimated that total ocean assets, such as coral reefs, mangroves, shipping lanes and carbon absorption, were worth a total of $24 trillion, about 10 times annual output.

Governments have repeatedly promised, and failed, to prevent ocean degradation. A U.N. Earth Summit in South Africa in 2002, for instance, set 2015 as the goal for restoring depleted fish stocks.

Lambertini said U.N. sustainable development goals for 2030, due to be set in September, could help the oceans recover if properly implemented, along with a U.N. deal to combat climate change due at a summit in Paris in December.

He also urged governments to achieve a U.N. goal of creating protected areas to cover 10 percent of all ocean area by 2020, up from 3.4 percent now.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Ocean wealth valued at US$24 trillion, but sinking fast
WWF 23 Apr 15;

The value of the ocean’s riches rivals the size of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a report released by WWF today. The report, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action - 2015, analyses the ocean’s role as an economic powerhouse and outlines the threats that are moving it toward collapse.

The value of key ocean assets is conservatively estimated in the report to be at least US$24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of US$2.5 trillion.

The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the most focused review yet of the ocean’s asset base. Reviving the Ocean Economy reveals the sea’s enormous wealth through assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, but the report also describes an unrelenting assault on ocean resources through over-exploitation, misuse and climate change.

“The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. “As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future.”

According to the report, more than two-thirds of the annual value of the ocean relies on healthy conditions to maintain its annual economic output. Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation as well as disappearing corals and seagrass are threatening the marine economic engine that secures lives and livelihoods around the world.

“Being able to quantify both the annual and asset value of the world’s oceans shows us what’s at stake in hard numbers; economically and environmentally. We hope this serves as a call for business leaders and policymakers to make wiser, more calculated decisions when it comes to shaping the future of our collective ocean economy," said Douglas Beal, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group.

Research presented in the report demonstrates that the ocean is changing more rapidly than at any other point in millions of years. At the same time, growth in human population and reliance on the sea makes restoring the ocean economy and its core assets a matter of global urgency.

“The ocean is at greater risk now than at any other time in recorded history. We are pulling out too many fish, dumping in too many pollutants, and warming and acidifying the ocean to a point that essential natural systems will simply stop functioning,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the report’s lead author and Director of the Global Change Institute in Australia’s University of Queensland.

Climate change is a leading cause of the ocean’s failing health. Research included in the report shows that at the current rate of warming, coral reefs that provide food, jobs and storm protection to several hundred million people will disappear completely by 2050. More than just warming waters, climate change is inducing increased ocean acidity that will take hundreds of human generations for the ocean to repair.

Over-exploitation is another major cause for the ocean’s decline, with 90 per cent of global fish stocks either over-exploited or fully exploited. The Pacific bluefin tuna population alone has dropped by 96 per cent from unfished levels.

It is not too late to reverse the troubling trends and ensure a healthy ocean that benefits people, business and nature. Reviving the Ocean Economy presents an eight-point action plan that would restore ocean resources to their full potential.

Among the most time-critical solutions presented in the report are embedding ocean recovery throughout the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, taking global action on climate change and making good on strong commitments to protect coastal and marine areas.

“The ocean feeds us, employs us, and supports our health and well-being, yet we are allowing it to collapse before our eyes. If everyday stories of the ocean’s failing health don’t inspire our leaders, perhaps a hard economic analysis will. We have serious work to do to protect the ocean starting with real global commitments on climate and sustainable development,” said Lambertini.

WWF’s global ocean campaign, Sustain Our Seas, builds on decades of work by the organization and its partners on marine conservation. WWF is working with governments, businesses and communities to encourage leaders to take urgent measures to revive the ocean economy and protect the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world.

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India plans more tiger reserves on the back of jump in numbers

Delhi announces three new reserves in central and eastern states following survey result that showed 30% rise in tiger population
Agence France-Presse The Guardian 22 Apr 15;

India is planning to create three more tiger reserves in the country, environment minister Prakash Javadekar announced in the parliament on Tuesday. The development comes in the wake of a recent survey that showed that the tiger population is rising.

The new reserves will be created in central and eastern India – in national parks in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Orissa – taking the total number of tiger reserves in the country to 50.

Villagers will no longer be allowed to live or work while buffer zones will be established around them.

“We will be adding three more reserves taking the number to 50,” said HS Negi, inspector general of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, better known as Project Tiger..

“Reserves have proved to play an important role in the conservation of tigers,” he said.

India currently has 39,000 sq km (15,000 sq m) under tiger reserves across 18 states. Another 30,000 sq km are designated as buffer zones, where villagers are allowed to live.

India announced in January that 2,226 tigers had been counted across the country, a 30% increase in the population from 2010, when the figure was 1,706.

At the beginning of the 20th century, India was home to an estimated 100,000 tigers but widespread hunting reduced the numbers to 1,411 in 2006.

India is home to half of the world’s tiger population and faces intense international scrutiny over its conservation efforts.

Authorities across Asia are waging a major battle against poachers, who often sell tiger body parts to the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine market, as well as other man-made problems such as habitat loss.

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Assessment questions plastics' non-hazardous ranking

Mark Kinver BBC News 22 Apr 15;

The report says policy makers and producers must find ways to deal with waste that can harm the environment

A study has questioned plastic's non-hazardous ranking, as an estimated 150 million tonnes "disappears" from the global waste stream each year.

Researchers outlined measures that can be used to shed light on the wider environmental impact of waste plastic.

An estimated 150 millions of tonnes of plastic "disappears" from the global waste stream each year, much of it is believed to end up in the environment.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"The issue with plastic waste in the environment is that plastic has a non-hazardous ranking," explained co-author Mark Browne, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"It has the same ranking - at the moment - as food scraps or grass clippings. This is in contrast to electrical goods, which have a hard ranking attached to them.

He added: "As you don't really have a structure to deal with the plastics we use in packaging or products, they find their way into the environment."

Quoting the estimated 150 million tonnes of "lost" plastic, Dr Browne - a member of the research team at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) - said the unaccounted plastic was a concern.

"We cannot account for it in the waste stream," he told BBC News.

"There is a real issue there, both in terms of the quantity and in terms of impacts.

Known knowns

Previous work by researchers at the NCEAS had shown that microscopic pieces of plastic (known as microplastic) were ingested by organisms, having a detrimental impact on their health.

Dr Browne observed: "We know a lot about the sub-lethal impact of bits of plastic but what about the ecological impacts?

"Are there impacts on populations or assemblages? Is this having an impact on ecosystems themselves?"

Dr Browne and his team set about reviewing existing literature to build up an understanding about what was known about plastic waste's large-scale impacts.

"We looked at combining all of the studies to try and find out what the evidence base was.

"What we found was that these types of plastics (from microscopic flecks to plastic nets stretching for hundreds of metres) could cause a whole range of impacts."

However, the team identified that most studies were isolated and did not provide a comprehensive overview needed by policymakers.

Dr Browne suggested that it was necessary to "plug the gap" between the materials' non-hazardous ranking and the scientific evidence that challenged that ranking.

In their paper, the team wrote: "Studies are required at multiple levels of biological organisation (from molecular and cellular levels through to populations and assemblages) that consider what is causing observed patterns of change to populations or assemblages at contaminated sites."

Dealing with the problem

It was important for policymakers and producers to fill the void in current measures to deal with waste that could harm the wider environment, they added.

"Through this, we shift the focus from traditional endpoints to developing mechanistic understanding of effects of debris at lower biological scales (where most is known) to lesser known and more worrisome ecological and policy-relevant effects."

Dr Browne added: "There has to be a concerted effort to either do the necessary research to find out how large those problems could be."

"If there is research available then it is used in the decision-making process and polices are adapted to take in the types of hazards."

He explained that there already examples of where the release of plastic products were tightly regulated.

"It is quite interesting that within the medical field… a plastic product, such as an artificial joint, cannot go on the market until it has been adequately tested to determine how safe it is.

"But when it comes to products used in the environment, or could make their way into the environment, we do not see that sort of testing happening."

Dr Browne acknowledged that plastic products were omnipresent in modern society but he called on policymakers and manufacturers to move to an approach that "used science to make the decisions for us".

He added that there were other materials that had long been recognised as pollutants or hazardous, yet systems had been developed to control or manage the risks to the environment.

"The ones they treat most seriously are the ones that can cause impacts on a whole range of assemblages and populations, and there are a whole series of tools available.
"Yet - at the moment - before plastic products are going on the market, these tools are not being used."

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