The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach announced Monday it has joined a partnership with 18 other aquariums to help fight plastic pollution in the world's oceans and fresh water bodies.
"The Aquarium of the Pacific is a trusted source of science-based information on the ocean and environment in our region," said Jerry Schubel, its president and CEO. "It is our aim to provide our visitors with practical things they can do as ocean stewards in their communities. We are proud to be joining with aquariums across the country to promote ocean conservation."
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership's "In Our Hands" campaign aims to start a national shift away from single-use plastic and toward alternatives.
"The public trusts aquariums to do what's right for the health of the ocean and for ocean wildlife," said Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. "We're just beginning to understand the full impacts of ocean plastic pollution on ecosystems, marine life, and human health. But we already know enough to say that now is the time to act."
All of the members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership are eliminating single-use plastic within their own venues, including plastic straws and single-use plastic take-away bags.
The members of the partnership have also committed to significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by December 2020 and showcase alternatives to single-use plastic in their facilities.
"As leaders in aquatic conservation, aquariums are expected to walk their talk, and that's exactly what this partnership is meant to do," said National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli. "We are uniquely qualified to set an example for others -- in reducing our plastic footprint, encouraging sustainable operating practices, and inspiring hope in a public that is hungry to be part of the solution. We're right where we should be."
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The partnership said 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year worldwide, which is the equivalent to roughly a dump truck full of plastic every minute of every day, and in the United States plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person each year.
Plastic pollution also impacts fresh water. For example, there are an estimated one billion plastic particles floating on the surface of Lake Michigan.
"Approximately 22 million pounds of plastic flows into the Great Lakes each year -- in Lake Michigan alone, it is equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with bottles," said Shedd Aquarium President and CEO Bridget Coughlin. "Small actions can turn into big solutions, and we believe the 24 million people in the United States who rely on this beautiful, massive resource for their drinking water, jobs, and livelihoods want to be part of that wave of change. We look forward to working together in these commitments."