What is marine litter?
Marine pollution is like a scary monster or nightmare that one struggles to wake up from. This pollution consists of any solid material that is manufactured or processed, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment. It has been estimated that more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic flow into our oceans – this is a choking fact!
How does marine litter affect us?
Marine litter such as plastic bags, straws, fishing gear does not only affect the marine animals but also human beings alike. Particularly the people whose livelihoods highly depend on healthy oceans, considering the fact that oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein and provide employment for millions of people.
One of the most noticeable consequences from marine litter is wildlife entanglement. Globally, tons of unsafe fishing gear that has either been abandoned or lost in the ocean, traps innocent marine animals on a daily basis. From the smallest fish to the largest killer whale, almost every marine animal has become a victim of entanglement – enough is enough. In addition to entanglement, ingestion of litter is also another consequence of marine litter which results in health problems and often leads to fatality. Often the animals would confuse plastic bags and straws as food, resulting in physical damage, blockage of the digestive tract as well as the release of toxic chemicals. Plastic litter acts as a “magnet” and can attract toxic chemicals surrounding it that have either run off from the land or have found their way to the ocean via sewage lines and rivers. When a fish ingests plastic litter and a human being later eats that fish, the toxins are passed on to them. What does this mean for human health? Research is being conducted to determine the direct risks that ingestion of contaminated fish poses on human health.
Our involvement as the Ocean Champions
As the Ocean Champions we work towards achieving a healthy, safe and clean ocean. Our goals are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically the sustainable development goal 14 which promotes quality of life under water. In efforts to ensure that this goal is achieved by 2030, we have been involved in a series of activities that contribute towards a sustainable and healthy ocean for all. Some of these activities include awareness campaigns, workshops and beach clean-ups.
Beach clean ups are one of the most fun and cost-effective solutions to reducing plastic pollution along our coastlines. As Ocean Champions we strongly believe that the clean-up never really ends on that day at the beach. All it takes is two hours of picking up trash off the beach for people’s mind-sets to be completely transformed. After participate in clean ups, it becomes extremely difficult for people to simply walk past trash or step over it after working hard at clean-ups. There is also a really good chance that they will consider more eco-friendly options when making common purchases. These two factors alone make beach clean-ups worth their weight in gold. We encourage people to get involved with beach clean-up events and make a difference!
#NewWaveOfLeaders MARINE LITTER – A GROWING GLOBAL CHALLENGE