Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Researchers call for Action after Kenya appeared among worst Ocean Polluters.


By Charles Ogallo

Kenya is listed among major polluters of the Ocean in Africa and said to be among developing countries in the world with poor marine environmental management policies.

The new Ocean Conservancy report features Kenya as the second worst ocean polluter after Nigeria, with almost 90,000 items such as plastic bags, Leaking chemical drums, cast-off motor-oil bottles and paint cans and many other items dumped annually along Coastlines.

The globally recognized report comes few days after a team of local researchers admitted that Kenyan coastal waters was unsafe both for marine wildlife and coastal residents, implicating poor management of the marine ecosystem as main cause of alarm.

Published annually by the ocean environmental watch-dog, the report also listed Tanzania and Egypt as third and fourth ocean poluters respectively.

Researchers from a Mombasa based Kenya Marine and Fisheries research Institutes also said uncontrolled mass discharge of both liquid and solid waste materials from local industries and residential houses to the ocean was to blame.

Over population and heavy development going on along the coastline have also been identified as threats to the Coastal marine ecosystem.

Dick Okuku, an environmental science researcher at the institution questioned local authorities bordering the Kenyan Coastline commitments on marine life safety.

“Locals authorities have failed to tackle ocean water pollution, they lack the capacity to control waste disposal into the ocean. They have failed to enforce their laws on solid waste management and what we are seeing now is all disaster in waiting” said Okuku.

“What we need now is the entire government’s commitments through the National environmental Management Authority to overhaul the denting scenario where all kind of trashes are unfairly dumped at the beaches ending up into the ocean “Okuku added.

The ocean Conservancy report indicates that the heavy volume of trashes collected during the 2008 international beaches cleanup was illustrations of the scope of hazards faced every single day by wildlife in the ocean.

Accordingly researchers say the marine debris threatens life of marine wildlife. Marine debris not only entangles marine life, it sickens, injures, and kills wildlife in and around waterways everywhere as ocean winds and currents circulate dangerous trash all across the world.

Leaking chemical drums, cast-off motor-oil bottles and paint cans, rusting cars and household appliances, and many other items dump into the sea affect not only wildlife but also the ecosystems they depend on for food, shelter, and the rearing of young. And when toxic materials from marine debris get into the seafood supply they may compromise human health.

Marine debris is but another stress on an ocean already beleaguered by many other human-caused stresses including coastal development, pollution, over fishing, and now climate change.

“Marine debris doesn’t fall from the sky, it falls from human hands—and human hands have the power to stop it ” says the report. It therefore recommends an expanded public and private partnership in monitoring and reducing marine debris.

Its also calling for increased fund to promote research on the sources and impacts of marine debris as while as seek better technological solutions to debris management and reduction. Understanding the sources and impacts of marine debris is integral to finding solutions that work.

Apart from debris management and reduction, a meeting of world environmental Ministers held recently at the United Nations Environmental Program –UNEP headquarters in Nairobi also resolved to commit every member country in tackling heavy toxic metals such as Mercury, Lead and Zinc.

According to a UNEP report, remedial measures are required to face out pollutant heavy metals which experts believe to be threatening the marine environment. The report recommends that member countries come up with better environmental policies that would help reduce usage and disposal of pollutants.

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