Environmental Policy News

Chesapeake Trash Trawl Finds Plastic Everywhere

The nonprofit organization Trash Free Maryland is currently trawling the Chesapeake Bay to get a better idea of the amount of plastic present in the water there.


The results at their halfway point are not looking very good. As of 10 September 2015, the group had collected 34 samples, from the mouth of the Chester River to the mouth of the Patuxent, including Herring Bay and Eastern Bay, off Poplar Island and just north of Hoopers. Thus far, every single sample contains plastic.

According to the project’s blog, “The amount and kinds of plastic vary, of course. Yesterday, along the mouth of the West & Rhode Rivers and down to Herring Bay, we saw a lot of clear film and wrap. Other days we see more filament like fishing line.And of course lots of little flecks of all different colors. There's no way to tell what those flecks are from yet, but hopefully the laboratory analysis will give us some ideas.”

Project members say that samples with a lot of grasses included contain a lot more plastic, adding, “This makes sense--organic matter tends to trap the particles the same way roots prevent erosion. But it's also alarming, because these grass beds are critical habitats for young aquatic life. We are seeing plastic particles nestled right up next to fish eggs on the grass.”

The team is working with experts about what this amount of plastic means for the Bay and public health and how they can “get trash and plastic pollution a bigger seat at the table in the broader restoration effort.”

The first trawling effort ends the week of 18 September 21015.

For more information, click here.

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