can be easily managed, but the high seas, where large plastics gyres exist, are harder to regulate. According to Mendenhall, the high seas have no strong legal representation of the global public interest. There is no notion that every citizen has an interest in preventing the ocean from being covered with trash. Mendenhall argues the protection of this public interest requires a stronger international cooperation to create a cleaner, more productive, and more efficient ocean environment. Mendenhall, who came to URI in 2017, said she’s found willing supporters in Rhode Island, at the University and at Save the Bay, a nonprofit whose policy and programming committee she serves on. “There’s just a critical mass of researchers working on this, and the fact that Rhode Island is the Ocean State, people are generally more aware and interested,” she said. And that, of course, is the first step toward finding a solution. SCIENTISTS ALSO ARE RESEARCHING THE IMPACTS OF HUMAN CONSUMPTION OF MARINE ORGANISMS THAT HAVE THEMSELVES INGESTED PLASTICS.

Page 44 | The University of Rhode Island { MOMENTUM: RESEARCH & INNOVATION }

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