By Janice Ruffle
In 1975, it was estimated that ocean-based sources, such as cargo ships and cruise liners, dumped 14 billion pounds of garbage into the ocean.
There are over one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals killed by pollution every year.
I read recently that waste being dumped freely into sea waters off the Lebanese coast, is killing marine life and polluting the Mediterranean.
According to Paul Abi Rached – who is the director of the Lebanon Eco Movement alliance of non-governmental organisations – they are “throwing everything in the sea – directly” .
On top of this, new waste being collected and thrown into the sea on a daily basis is leaching liquid pollution that impacts marine wildlife.
With people flocking to the sea in summer, sea pollution is a major problem – both visually and for health reasons.
What a sight for tourists! Conflicting images from the glossy holiday brochures!
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Given the latest research on plastic pollution in our oceans, let’s address a few principles.
Micro-plastics should be labelled as hazardous waste. Overwhelming scientific study shows concentrations of toxins on plastic are at very high levels.
An ocean clean-up is an inefficient and unnecessary strategy. The plastic that is in the oceans now will rapidly shred and settle to the seafloor or wash ashore, making clean-up at sea the least efficient means of recovery, and the least effective means of controlling emissions of waste to the ocean.
Producers must take responsibility for the lifecycle of plastics. Industry must either monetise incentives to recover waste plastics or innovate environmentally friendly product and packaging alternatives. Simply put: “If you can’t get your product back, make it harmless”.
Knowing that trillions of plastic particles, deemed hazardous waste, are cycling through entire marine eco-systems, underscores the importance to eliminate single-use. Throw-away plastic products and packaging from society.
If we do not end this problem on land, we can surely anticipate greater contamination of all we gather from the sea.
Cyprus marine pollution clamp-down
Apart from the municipality, the fisheries department, the department of merchant shipping, the ports authority, the environment department and the health services, are all responsible for eradicating marine pollution.
According to the Limassol municipality, they are determined to stamp out sea pollution in the area, which stems mainly from ships docking in the port. Finally, the authorities have realised sea pollution is a major issue!
Specific measures in place include an initiation procedure for increased micro-biological control of the sea by the state chemical laboratory in collaboration with the environmental service. A team of observers involving lifeguards and winter swimmers will inform relevant services when they detect signs of marine pollution.
The responsibility for supervising proper waste disposal by boats is spread across too many services, with no clear indication as to who is in charge. Coupled with no regular inspections, it boils down to violating the law.
Needless to say, government or privately-funded beach and ocean clean-ups are largely a distraction from efforts to stop pollution at the source.