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VANCOUVER, BC (Jan 31, 2020) – The Ocean Legacy Foundation, a Canadian non-profit organization with the goal to end ocean plastic waste, today made an official response to the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada, which was released yesterday, January 30, 2020.

Statement from Ocean Legacy Foundation:

Plastic pollution is a global crisis and Canada has an important international as well as national role to play. The Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC) is an important step in setting a science-based basis for policy action to mitigate the discharge of plastics to the environment.  We at the Ocean Legacy Foundation strongly support these efforts and the potential they have to guide future research and inform decision and policy-making to address plastic pollution and plastic related greenhouse gases in Canada.

Ocean Legacy is a national leader in better understanding the sources of plastic pollution, how to best collect this data across a broad spectrum of stakeholders, how to perform extensive remote and local cleanup operations, recommend best practice policy measures, provide plastic pollution mentorship and implement best-in-class technological developments to enhance plastic collection and processing.  It comes as no surprise to the Foundation that the results of the scientific study find macro plastics (plastic particles > 5 mm) in the natural environment to be physically harming animals and their habitat through entanglement, starvation and suffocation.  We must now act in accordance with this information to ensure no further damage or mortality are continued.

Employing the precautionary principle to mitigate further risk to the natural environment and its species have the potential of preventing significant further harm to marine wildlife and environmental degradation.  The Foundation is focusing much of its efforts in creating preventative fishing gear loss programs and collecting marine debris items including ghost gear and industrial legacy gear.  As part of any policy effort to mitigate the discharge of plastics we encourage Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to give serious consideration to a national framework for extended producer responsibility for fishing aquaculture equipment.

While additional research is necessary to better understand the health effects of human exposure to macro and microplastics and to further identify its impact on the natural environment, communities within Canada clearly have a requirement to take action on what we know to be harmful.  We support furthering this research and hope to lend our expertise in determining which single-use plastics qualify for this 2021 ban, recycled content standards, extended producer responsibility programs, which include select marine industrial equipment and mechanisms to stimulate the plastic circular economy.