The themes for this year’s World Environment Day and World Ocean Day are centered on beating plastic pollution and thus serve as a wakeup call for all of us to take prompt actions to protect our environment and by extension our lives.
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and the Fishnet Alliance in a statement made available to the press on Monday, 4th May stressed on the need for individual and collective efforts to end plastic pollution.
According to the organizations, the environment is endowed with elements of life, support and sustenance. The Oceans which cover about 71% of the Earth's surface, and contain 97% of the planet's water carry in them plethora of essential ingredients that supports our weather, plants, seafood and humans.
HOMEF Director, Nnimmo Bassey,stated thatplastics out of sight do not mean plastics out of lifeas many think when they trash plastic materials. “Tons of these materials end up in the gutters, rivers and the oceans. 15 tons of plastics are said to end up in the ocean every minute with more than 8 million tons being dumped in every year. An incredible 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals lose their lives to plastic pollution yearly”.
“If this menace continues then we will definitely have more plastics than fish in our oceans and water bodies in years to come. Already, plastics have been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in all sea turtles species that mistake plastic for food”.
“We must learn to reject plastics and not just aim to reduce, refuse, reuse or recycle them. It is time to tackle this threat at source. It is time to terminate this plastic civilization”, Mr Bassey added.
Stephen Oduware, project officer at HOMEF added that in the midst of a multitude of pollutants offshore, oil and plastics are the most insidious and injurious. There is need to clean up our oceans to help sustain the lives of the aquatic creatures and other life forms that depend on these water bodies for survival.
We have a collective duty to protect this awesome wonder of life from being turned into a dumping ground for plastics. Plastics cannot be digested by these fishes. Other sea creatures are not left untouched; sea turtles, seal and sea lions, sea birds, dolphins, whales, and all other life forms that depend on the ocean and its biodiversity for survival are all affected negatively. More so, plastics are not easily degradable. They float around in the oceans and other water bodies for hundreds of years. It is expedient that we take all necessary actions to beat this pollution and at all cost.
HOMEF and the FishNet Alliance called on governments, diplomats, and everyone at all levels, to beat plastic pollution. This is a challenge that we must all brace-up to else our fishes will be replaced by plastics and humans will be left in want.
The groups also called for concerted efforts to phase out the exploration of fossil fuels from which majority of plastic materials are produced.
They recommended that; plastic bags and polystyrene foams should be banned, paper made bags should be used in eateries and superstores rather than plastic bags and a lot more should be done to sensitize the public on the negative impacts of plastic pollution. The time to beat plastic pollution is now.
About FishNet Alliance
FishNet Alliance is a network of fishers engaging in, and promoting sustainable fishing in line with bearable limits of the ecosystem. As a network of like minds, the alliance stands in solidarity against hydrocarbon exploitation and exploration in our inland waters and offshore environments. The alliance holds on to the tenet that Fish is more valuable than Oil.
* this statement wasissued on 4th June as to mark World Environment Day and World Ocean Day 2018