Scientists believe increased plastic in our oceans has encouraged the spread of invasive species in a number of bodies of water.

Over the years the public has been aware that plastic pollution washes out to sea, killing sea birds, turtles and even whales. However, one scientist, Francesca Verones, at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, believes that plastic pollution could have an addition effect of marine ecosystems.

Discarded plastics are often dragged out to ocean by the tide, eventually ending up in oceans and on beaches all over the word. Unfortunately, when the plastic is washed out to sea, jelly fish and various shellfish get caught in the debris, causing them to be taken out to an environment which is not their own.

“Norway has seen a big increase in red king crab in recent years, for example. And then there’s the case of the sudden appearance of a species of jellyfish in the Black Sea that almost wiped out the sardines. When alien species move into new habitats, what happens then?” asks Verones.

Francesca Verones and her team were give a prestigious €1M grant from the European Union. The grant was given so she could perform a life-cycle assessment. This is a method of inventorying all the environmental impacts of products so scientist can determine a greener method of production.

“Think of Valentine’s Day, for example. We buy roses. They’re often grown in and imported from Kenya. You need a lot of water to grow roses. This causes several lakes to go dry, resulting in Kenyans having a shortage of drinking water. Should we stop buying roses from Kenya? Then people in Kenya may become even poorer and perhaps resort to other solutions to make money that are even more harmful. So I think a better solution is to continue to buy roses, and to also improve the irrigation system of the farmers who grow the roses,” says Verones.