The environmentalist Sydney-(out)sider
In the news story “Bundle of plastic waste washed ashore at Wooli believed to be from passing ship” journalist Elloise Farrow-Smith uses a large bundle of plastic, washed ashore in Wooli, to highlight the larger issue of plastic waste being dumped into the pacific by ships passing the Australian coast. This issue, as Smith notes, is not limited to the pacific and Professor smith underscores that 20% of plastic pollution in our oceans comes from ships. According to the article, 25% of the 50% of international plastic found on Australian coasts come from Chinese commercial ships . Furthermore, the article notes that plastics are contributing to increasing coral bleaching and constantly killing marine life. Not only do plastics kill marine life, but intensify bio-magnification of micro-plastics that are entering into human food chains.
Farrow-Smith takes a pro-research approach, deciding to rely heavily on Professor Steve Smith who has been conducting studies on plastics found washed ashore along Australian coastlines. Additionally, Farrow-Smith quotes Planet Ark activist Brad Grey who explains, ” the fact that ships are out to sea for a very long period of time means that they could conceivably not be doing the right thing, and it would be quite hard for a regulator to know some of that stuff.” This quote, emphasizes an the underlying tone of regulation in the article. Without directly saying that harsher regulations are necessary, Farrow-Smith notes that current regulations state that plastic is to be contained and recycled upon arrival at the ship’s destination. However, without clear methodology to enforce those policies, coupled with antiquated waste management systems on board these ships, the issue creates complex problems to seem to be almost impossible to solve. One thing the class seemed to pick up on is the lack of information or research done surrounding the negative effects of bio magnification. As sea travel continues to ramp up, so too will the amount of plastic entering our food chains. What does this mean for our food supply and how will we combat this issue? I stressed that harsher regulations may only come when proven research outlines the effects that plastics have on human help.
The class noted that perhaps the story lacked diversity when it came to source material. I also noted that I thought that it would have been very interesting to get a perspective from a Wooli local to see if pollution has become increasingly visible in the community. Overall though, I appreciated the articles attention to research and thought that Farrow-Smith did a very good job at using local news to stress global issues.