Water contamination by numerous anthropogenic components is referred to as water pollution. Ocean pollution is a term used to describe the damage to the ocean environment due to poor resource management and unsustainable goals pursued by organizations worldwide. Insoluble solids, metals, phosphates, inorganic nitrogen, oil hydrocarbons and certain organic material are the principal pollutants in seas, particularly in the China Sea. Contaminants in the area significantly impact the environment and marine life. The anthropogenic components make the water unfit for human consumption while also reducing its potential to support biotic ecosystems (Landrigan et al., pg.21). When the Cuvier’s finned whale has washed ashore on Sotra in Norwegian with thirty plastic packaging in its belly, it was a sorrowful but significant day. Researchers have been documenting the plastic pollution problem in the water since 1970. For the majority of us, 2017 was most likely the year when our eyes were indeed opened. The plastic crisis has grown to the point where it can now be seen on coastlines worldwide. An estimated 7.4 million metric tonnes of plastic wind up inside the ocean each year. Once hailed as a spark of brilliance, an item has become the world’s fastest-growing ecological concern. Ocean or marine pollution is a concern since it, directly and indirectly, impacts marine life and humans. It is necessary to solve the problem of ocean pollution by updating legislation surrounding ocean pollution and raising individual awareness.
Causes of Marine Pollution
As previously said, marine pollution significantly impacts the ocean, aquatic life, and peoples’ lives. Contaminating water, the ecosystem for fauna and flora in seas, directly influences it, much as air pollution does on humans. It is challenging for animals to survive in such circumstances, but it also causes the death of various aquatic animals (Wabnitz et al., pg. 2). Plastic trash in the oceans is a big worry among the numerous contaminants. Plastic not only pollutes the water, but it may also be consumed by aquatic life, become wrapped around ocean animals, and bring strange species to the environment.
Diverse groups of people are responsible for the plastic that enters the ocean. The fisheries sector, for example, is accountable for dumping vast amounts of plastic into the ocean like containers and fishing equipment. In 1975, an estimated 135,405 tons of polymer fishing equipment and 23,600 tons of plastic packaging were discarded into the sea. Tiny plastic particles and pellets and massive plastic trash damage the ecosystem (Zeng et al., pg.15). Despite their small size, they can live for 3- 10 years at sea. As a result, if such a tiny material can take ages to dissolve, consider how long larger chunks of plastic might take.
Pollutants from industrial effluents, sewage, and other contaminants pollute the oceans. Mining produces industrial pollution and waste of sediment, which flows into the oceans via rivers. Though it may not appear to be a contaminant, an abundance of certain minerals, such as copper, can disrupt coral polyp formation and the ecological life cycle. Another source of contamination in the ocean waters is runoff from cities, construction sites, and farms. Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other minerals are abundant in the soil. The nutrient-rich creates a favourable habitat for algae and phytoplankton to thrive, resulting in a hypoxic state in the ecosystem. Dolphins, turtles, shrimp and fish in the sea have all died due to this algal growth, and people in the area have also been harmed.
Effects of Ocean Pollution
Eutrophication, toxicity, deoxygenating, and acidification are some of the repercussions of ocean pollution. Any chemical can cause these effects if the concentration level is increased enough. For example, even something as basic as milk can pollute water by altering the chemical constitution of the liquid. On the other hand, some compounds can have a considerably greater influence than the rest. They can get into the water from various sources, making it challenging to manage chemical seepage. Oceans have become increasingly acidic as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and runoff. This harms calcium carbonate-based structures like corals and shellfish’s ability to create their shells.
Policies and Legislative Interventions
Producer accountability should be increased. World plastic output has risen in the last 50 years, and leading plastic producers intend to boost production by about a third in the next five years. In 1974, the overall average per capita usage of plastic was 2 kg. That has now risen to 43 kilograms! That’s going on the wrong path for the planet. Rather, non-degradable plastic approaches must be established. The companies responsible for most plastic waste must be tailored with industry-specific contracts, producer responsibility arrangements, and prerequisites for destruction and ruptured plastic equipment handling, reuse, and collection (Daoji & Dag, pg. 116).
The government should raise fees and levies on polluting plastics. The majority of today’s plastics are made from oil, and they are a cause of both ocean pollution and climate greenhouse gases. Plastics, for example, account for 35.7 million tons of the 293 million tonnes of municipal solid garbage created in the United States in 2018. However, the amount of plastic garbage recycled in the United States that year was only 3.1 million tons, resulting in an 8.7% recycling rate(Landrigan et al., pg.27). Despite this, petroleum plastic is still less expensive to produce and purchase than regenerative plastic. Governments should look into imposing a levy or tax on polluting polymers. Fees must be modified so that recycled plastic is less expensive than petrochemical plastic.
Furthermore, there should be increased trash management in areas where the situation is the most serious. The majority of plastic garbage originates in underdeveloped countries. Because of rapid population expansion and a growing middle class, plastic usage is outpacing the capacity to control waste, and much of the overabundance winds up in the ocean. Indonesia and China are two of the leading producers of plastic garbage. An international aid initiative to build recycling infrastructure and waste management should be implemented as part of the response.
Nations should embrace the adoption of the ocean plastic zero vision. The United Nations Environment Assembly established a global aim to end the dumping of plastic into the sea in December 2017(Landrigan et al., pg.23). Following that, an international agreement in principle with clear targets and timelines for execution should be developed, assuring the mapping of maritime trash sources, greater market accountability to prevent new dissemination and global waste management improvement. Marine pollution has become a significant source of concern for the international society, mainly because the fish fed by humans is dangerous and unhealthy. As a result, rules dealing with water contamination must be revised, notably those dealing with treating wastewater, municipal garbage, and ocean use.
The merging of socioeconomic and environmental decision-making, critical for combating ocean pollution, is the primary roadblock to sustainable development (Macías-Zamora, pg. 33). The international community has made a variety of measures to combat ocean pollution, including the many Sustainable Development Goals and how they relate to tackling marine pollution. These objectives must be met by the entire globe, or at the very least by members of the Un. However, it is critical to translate international goals into regional and local goals to make them more feasible and quantifiable. From local to international level, every player in society plays an active role. Businesses must recognize that the pollution and sewage material produced from their plants has a higher social cost than cleaning and treating the water and garbage. The governments can play a crucial role in monitoring that organizations adhere to the policies and procedures and do not circumvent them. There should be consequences in place to compel corporations to take corrective action.
Rather than being discharged into the oceans, sewerage should be a helpful resource. In dry and semi-arid areas, it could be an excellent source of irrigation. This could be a viable alternative supply in locations where restrictions are less stringent. Wastewater could be used for economic reasons, agriculture, seafood, and landscape improvement in urban areas. This will enable water recycling and prevent it from being discharged into the ocean, polluting the waterways. Also, research, surveillance and mapping should be expanded. There is yet a lot that is unknown about the plastic pollution problem. According to researchers, more than 70% of plastic winds up on the ocean floor. It degrades into tiny particles over time, but we have no idea what happens or how to remove it (Schmaltz et al., pg.144). The initiatives to map and analyze the negative consequences and fund experiments must be bolstered. REV, the largest global research and exploration vessel, is a significant step in this approach since it attempts to solve the world’s most pressing ocean concerns, including a focused effort on plastic waste.
Governments should increase funding for the cleanup of toxic waste in the ocean. Relatively, to address the plastic issue, we must guarantee that intervention and cleanup activities have been carried out in places where the situation is the most serious. However, a shortage of financial resources has impeded most of the work. We would be one stride closer to the reality of a future free of plastic and marine pollutants in our ocean if we would establish a worldwide ocean fund including cleanup and waste management of marine regions high on the priority list.
Individual Responsibilities and Roles
An individual’s responsibility in combating ocean pollution would be more active than that of the community. Here are some of the procedures and strategies that people can take to combat ocean pollution. People may make a huge difference by raising awareness about how their actions impact marine life. Fundraising events, seminars and awareness campaigns and other such gatherings where the topic of marine pollution can be analyzed and discussed are required. Instead of the presenters dictating what is going on and how it might be prevented, these sessions should be participatory. These events’ agendas should not be repetitious or excessively long, so attendees may easily understand what is going on and be inspired to learn more.
People must limit their reliance on plastic. Plates, plastic cups, packaging, plastic bags, straws and silverware are many single-use plastic goods. We have to put a stop to it. A number of nations have enacted laws prohibiting the use of disposable products and plastic packaging or have set explicit goals for decreasing plastic usage and waste (Ferraro et al., pg. 456). This endeavour must be scaled up to reduce worldwide plastic consumption. Stopping to use these goods is one way you can help. Restricting the plastic waste and debris flow into the ocean is essential. Around 80% of the polycarbonate in the water is thought to come from land-based activities and industries (Landrigan et al., pg.22). Car tires, technological sports equipment, fleece apparel, cigarette butts, and textile buds are all examples. Everybody should indeed play a role in finding a solution. One can, for example, take part in cleanup efforts, reduce their plastic usage, and pick up any trash they come across.
Another excellent option for individuals to contribute to reducing marine pollution is via social work activities. Plastics and other trash collected from the ocean and coastlines can help reduce a large quantity of pollution. Even if a few people make it a routine to clean up the coastlines each day, everybody will gradually become aware of their habits and littering tendencies and how they contaminate the oceans. People can engage in social work, institutions and organizations can launch it, and the state can commission it.
Another stage is to teach youngsters how and when to recycle wastewater, what creates pollution, and how dirty water affects marine life, which, in turn, has an impact on human health (Alava, pg. 497). It is most practicable to establish a world where people are aware and responsible for the effects of their actions at the primary level when youngsters are taught what is wrong and right. Individually, among the essential activities would be for people to pollute less. Though this would necessitate a significant amount of political and societal commitment, if it is accomplished, the overall trash generated will be much reduced, resulting in reduced pollution. People on a local and worldwide level should work together to attain the aim.
People should also make every effort to recycle and reuse garbage imaginable. It would be helpful to learn from the Japanese recycling procedures. They are not only eco-friendly but also long-lasting and contribute significantly to the reduction of trash generated as a result. Instead of adding to personal garbage, the goal should be to minimize, reuse, and recycle as much as feasible. One approach to accomplish this is to reclassify trash and garbage so that individuals may more easily distinguish between what should be reused, recycled, and eliminated.
Pollution of any kind, in general, is a significant source of worry for the rest of the world. Because humans are indirectly or directly responsible for destroying the environment, it is up to them to band together and find a solution. Although individuals do not drink seawater, contaminating it is not acceptable. It serves as a habitat for various aquatic creatures and a food source for wildlife and humans. Pollution of the waters puts sea life in grave peril. Because marine life can’t do anything to end the hazard to their lives and habitat, it’s up to the rest of the globe to try to fix the problem. Countries, organizations, communities, and individuals must all work together to stop ocean pollution. Each of these players has a distinct responsibility to ensure that pollution levels do not continue to rise. It is critical to concentrate on ways to mitigate the effects of marine pollution.
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