The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has declared war against the littering of the ocean.
The move was sequel to a scientific study on marine litter challenge it carried out in 2015 in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Partnership Action (GPA).
The study culminated to the development of the national action plan on marine litter and its campaign concept in the country.
To this end, it has inaugurated what it called Marine Litter Marshals to assist the agency which remains Nigeria’s apex regulatory authority in the maritime industry in ridding the oceans of unwanted waste materials that could cause environmental degradation and also impede safety of navigation on the nation’s territorial waters.
Speaking during the flag-off ceremony of the first phase with 120 marshals at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre in Lagos, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside charged Nigerians on the sustainable use of the ocean resources and added that there are so many activities dependent on the ocean; hence the need to ensure it is clean and properly utilized.
According to him, the state of health of the ocean is related to the state of our health and our economy. Therefore we must stop the indiscriminate dumping of materials in our ocean.
The NIMASA helmsman stated that, marine litter directly impacts on ocean life, marine habitats, human health, and navigational safety with potential impacts on socio-economic development of nations.
Peterside charged the marshals to go to the ports, coastlines and littoral communities and enlighten them on the need to maintain cleaner oceans, just as he enjoined them to also keep watch and ensure that the right thing is done so that our eco system can be preserved.
He warned that the agency will not condone indiscriminate dumping of waste at the sea.
Also speaking at the event was a marine environment expert and the President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo Oladele.
He applauded the initiative and described the agency as a beacon of hope to the rest of Africa. He said there is the need to preserve our oceans as it holds a lot of opportunities in developing the nation.
Oladele stated that there was need for inter-generational equity of our resources, which means the survival of the eco-system is dependent on this present generation as it will affect the future generation.
“The environment is not a gift from our parents, but a loan from our children. We must therefore do all we can to preserve it”,Oladele said.
The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972, commonly called the “London Convention” and also abbreviated as Marine Dumping, is an agreement to control pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements supplementary to the Convention. It covers the deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, and platforms.
According to global statistics, roughly 80 per cent of marine pollution originates on land. To address this, strong coordinated action is needed. UN have championed a course for the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from land-based activities which NIMASA has also keyed into in order to establish and strengthen voluntary and a multi-stakeholder partnerships on nutrient pollution, marine litter and water wastes.
Co-ordinator of the project and Deputy Director, Marine and Environment Management of NIMASA, Dr. (Mrs.) Felicia Mogo pointed out that the initiative was to ensure proper solid waste management and in particular prevent materials like plastic waste and other dangerous items from reaching our waters.
NIMASA as the agency of government responsible for marine environment management in its continuous quest to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector in line with global best practices has taken the step to engage some young Nigerians as marine litter marshals who are expected to ensure that the oceans are kept clean and safe.