Marine birds and plastic debris in Canada: a national synthesis and a way forward

Jennifer F. Provencher, Alexander L. Bond, Mark L. Mallory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    88 Citations (Scopus)


    Marine plastic ingestion by seabirds was first documented in the 1960s, but over 50 years later our understanding about the prevalence, intensity, and subsequent effect of plastic pollution in the oceans is still developing. In Canada, systematic assessments using recognized standard protocols began only in the mid-2000s. With marine plastic pollution identified by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) as one of the most critical challenges for the environment, a greater understanding of how plastics affect marine birds in Canada, along with a national strategy, is timely and necessary. To better understand which and how many marine birds are affected by marine debris, we reviewed reports of plastic ingestion and nest incorporation in Canada. Of the 91 marine bird species found in Canadian waters, detailed plastic ingestion data from multiple years and locations are available for only six species. Another 33 species have incidental reports, and we lack any data on dozens more. Future efforts should focus on characterizing the risk of plastic ingestion among understudied species and on continued monitoring of species that are known indicators of plastic pollution internationally and found in multiple regions of Canada to facilitate comparisons at the national and international levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalEnvironmental Reviews
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2014


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