The ocean makes life on Earth possible. It nourishes our bodies and our souls. It influences our weather, fuels economies and connects distant lands. It is vast, deep, powerful and mysterious. And it’s in trouble. As 70% of the earth is covered with water, people actually assumed that all pollutants would be diluted and get disappeared. But in reality, they have not disappeared.
In present times humankind deliberately disposes waste which enters our oceans indirectly along many different pathways. Human society inevitably generates immense amounts of waste discharging millions of tonnes of problematical substances which eventually ends up in the oceans, polluting it, is a growing cause for concern.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978, known as MARPOL 73/78, is the principal regulation covering protection of the marine environment.
Substances which are dispersed by burning of oil, gas, coal & industrial chemicals into the environment from the atmosphere are far more difficult to control. This is what makes it so difficult to combat pollution to improve the situation.
Ultimately, every individual nation has a responsibility to adopt appropriate measures to keep its marine environment clean.
In contrast to the marine litter situation, a more positive trend can be observed with regard to oil pollution. Fortunately, the pollution from oil has been decreasing in recent years. It is difficult to say whether this is due to more stringent controls on commercial shipping or better ship safety.
Almost any discharge from a ship / offshore installations into the surrounding environment needs to be carefully considered in advance. Not only are chemical cargo residues, oily water from machinery room, overboard disposal of garbage are strictly regulated, but funnel exhausts and ballast water have now been identified as requiring control. There is a new regulatory requirement regarding the disposal of garbage from ships. Ships will dispose their ship-generated waste to reception facilities ashore.
The future is all about sustainable development of goals which cannot be achieved without shipping. Effective implementation under shared responsibilities can be achieved by ratifying IMO conventions and strengthening technical contributions. Global standards have been established, but there is always a need for improvement through cooperation.
Control of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) from ship emissions that are considered to be harmful to the atmosphere that can settle on land or into the sea is a growing concern. Another area of concern is the recycling of the ships after reaching the end of their operational lives has to be done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
The control and management of biofouling to minimize the transfer of AIS (aquatic invasive species) threat will require owners / operators to develop a biofouling management plan that takes account of vessel type, size, hull configuration and pattern of activity and tracks biofouling in a record book.
Over one million seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year. Three hundred thousand dolphins die each year as a result of becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets, among other items. One hundred thousand sea mammals are killed in the ocean by pollution each year.
- There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean: the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is the largest oceanic garbage site in the entire world.
- The biggest source of pollution in the ocean is directly from land based sources
- Plastic is the most common element that is found in the ocean. It can absorb toxic chemicals from ocean pollution, therefore poisoning whoever eats it.
The major sources of the plastic debris are from China, India, Brazil and the United States & these are the biggest polluters. The “garbage patch” where plastic from around the world floats to the north Pacific is becoming nature’s giant waste dump.
About 8 million tons of plastic waste wound up in the world's oceans in 2010 — equal to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. The trash could increase more than tenfold in the next decade unless the international community improves its waste management practices.
Robust risk assessments offer a promising solution. This helps evaluate the potential hazards associated with a given substance before it is brought to market. Stricter legislation with regard to pollution of the sea completely bans the discharge of untreated waste water, sewage, waste oil and sludge should be followed in full. Effective environmental awareness all over the world can only really work, if the general public is sensitized to the problem of waste.
All four oceans have suffered as a result of human consequence for over a long period of time & now it has accelerated in the past few decades. Oil spills, toxic wastes, floating plastic and various other factors have all contributed to the pollution of the ocean. If we are to preserve ocean and its natural beauty, drastic measures have to be taken to combat this pollution and keep our oceans clean & safe.