New research gathered by a group of scientists associated with Ocean Cleanup, a group developing technologies to reduce ocean plastic, determined that fishing nets are a leading cause of plastic pollution in the ocean. Researchers surveyed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)—a major ocean plastic accumulation zone found in waters between California and Hawaii—taking a total of 652 surface net samples, and concluded that at least 46 percent of the GPGP plastic was comprised of fishing nets. Other fishing gear such as crates, oyster spacers, ropes, and eel trap cones also make up a smaller percentage of the plastic surveyed. Meanwhile, Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate that plastic straws make up only .03 percent of the 8 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean. In 2016, the World Wildlife Fund warned that global fish populations may completely collapse by 2048 if current fishing practices aren’t addressed.

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