The Fundy Baykeeper says an unusual catch in the waters off Grand Manan tells the story of a dishearteningly common and pervasive problem in our oceans: the abundance of human-made garbage.
The CBC reports that Grand Manan lobster fisher Karissa Landstrand recently pulled in a lobster with part of a Pepsi can imprinted on its claw, as if it was a tattoo.
The story was quickly picked up media outlets across Canada and beyond, with our Fundy Baykeeper, Matt Abbott, talking about the serious issue of marine pollution to reporters as far away as the BBC in London.
Lindstrand told the CBC that she and her colleagues believe the lobster got the imprint from a littered Pepsi can or box.
Either way, the Fundy Baykeeper told reporters the ‘Pepsi lobster’ shows just how much our garbage is affecting marine environments and species.
“What it really tells us, whether it was a can or a case, is that this lobster going about its natural life cycle was in contact with garbage for long enough to be imprinted by it, which really helps illustrate just how widespread the issue of rubbish in the ocean is,” Abbott told the BBC.
“We think of garbage floating around on top of the water and landing on beaches, but this shows that its all through the water column and there’s really no parts of the ocean that are free from the risk of damage from rubbish.”
Abbott said plastic garbage is particularly harmful because it breaks down into microscopic pieces that stay in the water and are often mistook as food by small ocean critters.
“Once ingested, it can cause all sorts of problems. And if this lobster was exposed to garbage there is every chance it was eating things it shouldn’t have been eating, too.”
Abbott said there are things people can do to help tackle the problem of marine debris in the coastal waters of New Brunswick and beyond.
“First of all, we can work with our local and national governments to ensure there is effective policy to both reduce production of plastic and unnecessary packaging — like plastic bags, single-use straws, plastic cutlery, take out containers,” Abbott said.
He also encourages people to pressure companies to make smarter, more common sense choices around packaging for their products.
“We got on just fine before we had such reliance on plastic packaging and I think we can find alternatives to it again.”
The Fundy Baykeeper, a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, (founded by Robert Kennedy Jr.,) is a key part of the Conservation Council’s Marine Program. The Fundy Baykeeper conducts on-the-water research and monitoring in the Bay of Fundy, removes large debris from the water and coastline, and works with community members and fisheries groups to promote a healthy marine environment.
As Fundy Baykeeper, Abbott is currently working with the provincial and federal governments, in collaboration with other non-governmental organizations, to tackle some of the marine debris issues in New Brunswick’s waters.