World Oceans Day: Awareness creation, community engagements against marine plastic pollution key to goals
The Marine and Environment Care group gladly joins the rest of the world in celebrating the World Oceans Day on 8 June, 2020 by calling for more attention to educating communities of people about the importance of ending pollution of all manner to the oceans.
As one key provision of the Decade of the Ocean Science, the group highlights the need to encourage people to take necessary action in reducing single-use plastics, and where it is inevitable, they must recycle plastic waste and not leave them to litter the environment and subsequently find their way into the oceans.
Lead Consultant of Marine and Environment Care, Hope Orivri, recalls that the group had earlier in February 2020 engaged 500 cadets and the entire community of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in a conference educating them on how marine plastic pollution constitutes serious problems to the oceans and its resources, and ultimately humans.
Gladly, some cadets started a new path putting to use the information and knowledge gathered from that conference by turning waste plastic bottles into materials for making life-jackets.
Part of the conference discussion educating the people included interactive sessions on how plastic pollution endangers the ocean and its resources
How plastic pollution affect the marine environment
Plastic destroys coral reefs
Plastic pollution speeds up the growth of pathogens in the ocean. The conclusion of a recent study highlights how coral reefs that come into contact with plastic are 89% more likely to contract diseases. This number becomes even more worrying when we consider that 60% of reefs are already seriously damaged and that half of the Great Barrier Reef has already been bleached to death.
Coral reefs are essential for the survival of our oceans. They provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms as well as adjusting carbon and nitrogen levels in the water and producing essential nutrients for marine food chains. These incredible living organisms also offer a service to all communities living on the coastline as it protects them from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms.
Plastic poisons our food chain
Plastic has been detected in almost all levels of the oceanic food chain. From the smallest of marine organisms, namely plankton, to the largest of predators, such as whales and sharks.
Microplastics enter our oceans in various different ways. As we all know, plastic material does not biodegrade but only breaks down into smaller microscopic particles which are then consumed by fish and enter the food chain.
Marine mammals consume plastic/get entangled in plastic
There are evidences that marine mammals consume plastics that pollute the marine environment, thinking it is food. Bloated from the plastic they have consumed, the mammals are left to stave and not be able to grow or even die.
Besides consuming plastics, there are regular cases of plastic entanglement which leaves the marine mammals helpless, except in few cases where divers/marine biologists come to their rescue.
How can we reduce that impact?
Changing our consumption habits and pledging to cut our single use plastic to a minimum is the single best tool we have today to fight plastic pollution.
Beyond the dedicated day for ocean cleanup, it is important to create a sustainable strategy through campaigns to educate people on why they must not litter the marine environment, particularly with plastics.
Research findings have also shown that it is needful to have robust engagements with target audiences; communities, people working within the maritime environment including seafarers and port workers to be environment aware and practice some habits that can help reduce one-off usage of plastic.