Almost the third of the globe is covered with oceanic waters and only the forth is made up of land. The reason for the land-water ratio is not too difficult to understand if we know how the oceans are important in keeping our environment healthy. They have lion’s share in regulating the proportion of CO2 in our atmosphere.
Not just limiting themselves to maintaining the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, they also provide habitat for innumerable species of marine life, which is even richer than that which is found on earth. However, they cannot continue to do so unless the quality of their waters is maintained. We can lend our hand to maintain it to our benefit.
Keeping Beaches Clean
Most coastal regions of the world have beaches that attract millions of people all the year round. They either have romantic or philosophical view of the seas and oceans that they see from the shore.
They either try to fill themselves with the infinity of the seascape with the passion of the rolling waves or they try to lose themselves in it to attain to imaginary oneness with the oceans. Some adventurous spirits are even attracted by the opportunity they provide for various kinds of sea-sports.
All that is good as far as it goes. Unfortunately, when they hear the call of the land to return to the everyday matter-of-fact world, they not only leave behind their romantic attitude toward oceans but also a lot of litter.
Their imagination does not stretch itself to grasp the possibility that the waste that they leave behind might possibly get washed into the oceans. They either pollute the nature of the oceans or harm the marine life that try to feed on it. Therefore, it is advisable that the beach-goers do not scatter refuse on beaches.
Keeping Rivers & Waterways Clean
Though not all rivers flow to the sea, there are many that do. It is the nature of the rivers to carry along with its flow whatever lies on its shore or is deposited in it. Since they flow into the seas and from seas to the oceans, all that rivers gather in their flow end up in oceans.
From the research work carried out regarding the pollutants of the oceans, it has been discovered that they largely consist of sewage, plastic, industrial waste and fertilizers that are used in farms. In most developing countries, it has been common practice for the industries and local administrations to deposit industrial waste and sewage into rivers.
In spite of the fact that the ill-effects of it are quite evident, it continues under the aegis of their respective governments. It has hurt the natural resources and environment to such an extent that slowly the governments all over world are waking up to stop any further damage from happening by cleaning up the rivers.
As it is, the success in achieving the target of cleaning the oceans will ultimately depend on how the health of the rivers is restored. Until then, continue using a best water purifier to make water safe for drinking!
According to one statistics there are approximately 51,400 merchant ships on world’s oceans. The claim made by another report states that 15 of the world’s largest ships account for the pollution that is about three times greater than all the cars of the world together can produce!
According to Fiona Harvey, an environment journalist, this is because of the kind of fuel that is being used in these giant cargo and passenger ships. It generates a lot of sulpher oxide and carbon dioxide which are considered to be extremely harmful.
Not much can be done to stop the pollution that the international shipping is producing since it doesn’t fall under international green house gas regulations.
In 2016 there was a court decision in the US regarding dumping in the ocean which was technically termed as the diesel being recycled in the ocean. For this dumping the accused had to pay as fine some $200M to $400M dollars.
Apart from bad fuel, dumping in oceans also includes depositing of sewage that results in seriously hurting the oxygen levels in the water. There is a rule for the discharge standard used for sewage treatment plant onboard the ships but it is not implemented strictly with the result that it is violated with impunity. Strict implementation of such rules must be made.
This danger presents us with one of the most frightening scenarios vis-à-vis the oceans and their ecology. According to one report, about 706 million gallons of waste oil finds its way into the ocean. And up to 8% of the spillage is from offshore drilling facilities, leakage from ships and tankers, accidental spillage and what is caused from maintenance of ships.
Some of the ways to address the issue of oil spillage in the oceans include using double-hull tankers for oil transportation, strict monitoring to detect any leakage in the pipeline system on the same, BOPs, etc. And in spite of all such precautions, if the spillage does occur, then there should be quick response to deal with the situation. The response we talk about involves
- Quick dispatch of pollution control equipment
- Of booms and absorbents
- Burning &
- Chemical dispersal of oil
This activity is directed toward extracting precious ores. While the idea of making business out of it is quite alluring, it has the potential to severely damage the ecosystems of oceans. That the threat is real was fairly established by the experiment carried out by Hjalmar Thiel on the Pacific ocean-bed with the help of a plough that he and his associates used over 11 sq.km area.
When they ploughed it, the disturbance it caused and the cloud of sediment it raised, settled down on the marine life in the area and killed it. The intense impact of an experiment carried out on such a small scale could be gauged from the fact that the sediment raised from the ocean-bed covered the entire area that was under study.
Of course, the United Nations have established the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority to regulate this activity; but a mining code is ready to allow this activity to be carried out by licensees holding 30-year validity in international waters.
Since this activity will commercially begin soon, it is good to put necessary checks on it. If not, the ecosystem of oceans will be destroyed in such a way and the toll of the marine life and environment it will take will be such that it will beat our imagination.
Establishment of More Advocacy Organizations
From the significant results that the already existing organizations have achieved through their efforts in this critical area of environment protection, we can fairly say that more such organizations are needed to drive their point home through multi-level planning.
Also Read: Organizations Working to Keep Oceans Clean
By multi-level is meant raising public awareness concerning how grim the problem of ocean pollution actually is by carrying out campaigns. It may create a culture of social accountability toward the nature that the entire creation depends upon to remain alive.
The other way to go about the task is to wage a movement that would force governments to take action either by legally securing the well-being of the oceans or strictly implementing upon the already existing laws. To put it plainly, it would create political accountability toward ocean conservation.
These organizations may be empowered in various ways to actively get involved in preserving the ecosystems and marine life of the oceans. That’s what the Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, 5 Gyres, Take 3, etc are doing.
Promoting Ethical Fishing
This is the subject that reminds us of the famous statement made by the wise, old boar named Old Major in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This is what he says:
“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is the lord of all the animals.”
How true it is! But in the present context, man seems to have gone from bad to worse; because the problem is not limited to consumption alone, rather it turns out to be greed that cannot be satisfied with enough food but must make money out of it.
It is this lust for money that has given way to unethical fishing that has literally endangered countless species of marine life. This has necessitated the fishing trade to be managed scientifically.
The efforts made by the Ocean Conservancy which resulted in the ban on commercial whaling in 1982 and the good work carried out by the SEE Turtles to save endangered species of turtles are good instances of what such organizations can do.
Research Work to Better Address the Issue
In this regard, it would avail us to consider Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It carries out both the research work and education at the same time. It provides perfect setting to a dedicated group of scientists and engineers to carry out research work in marine science.
They not only show us the ways in which the oceans get polluted but also how to restore them to normalcy. They generously share the information they have gathered in this way with peoples and governments.
This helps motivate people to lend their hand in the good work they are doing, and move governments toward effective policy making.
Banning the Use of Plastic
This is absolutely necessary. This is because the world is leaving its plastic footprints on the oceans so grossly that the marine life is severely threatened. It is said that 10% of the plastic that is produced in the world ultimately ends up in oceans.
Promoting the Practice of Recycling
This is a truly viable option to keep pollutants from entering the seas. The things that we can recycle are many. To name but few:
- Plastic goods
- Metal containers
- Food waste &
- Dirty water
As you can see, on individual and communal levels some of the ways in which we can help keep our oceans clean are very easy, not requiring too many material and financial resources. All we need is a concern…love…for the nature around us. The larger organizations and governments will do the rest.