Marine life and bio-diversity have come under serious threats in Nigeria with an alarming level of plastic pollution and marine litters which has seen the country rated second in Africa on marine pollution chart, according to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside revealed this on Thursday last week as NIMASA launched a Maritime Action Plan on Marine Litter and Plastic (MAP-ML+P) Management in Nigeria.
He stated that the Action Plan shows the nation’s commitment to cleaner marine environment with the international community, industry stakeholders, State governments, coastal communities and the private sector invited to key into the strategy.
“We shall no longer ignore the effects of marine litters and plastics (macro-plastics and micro-plastics) on biodiversity, marine life, navigation and human health; neither shall we continue to ignore the negative impacts of marine activities like fishing, oil and gas drilling, shipping and ecotourism”, Dakuku said.
He noted that the menace remained a global concern, following the increased awareness about blue economy and its derivable benefits, adding that it was a threat to food security, economic activities, water safety, ecosystem, among others.
“It is estimated that Nigeria generates 32 million tons of solid waste per year, one of the highest in Africa. Of that figure, plastic constitutes 2.5 million tons. This poses a great danger to the environment and to humans” he asserted.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Environment has called for inter-agency collaboration among all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at Federal and State government levels, and encouraged private companies to deepen their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to tackle the menace.
The Minister of State for Environment, Barr. (Mrs.) Sharon Ikeazor made this call at the event, even as she commended NIMASA for kick-starting efforts to key into the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) which is an instrument of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
She stressed that a holistic approach to addressing the menace must have all agencies of government as well as private sector companies commitment.
“We should all realize that everyone has the responsibility to keep the environment clean. NIMASA has kickstarted the efforts towards the implementation of MARPOL which is geared towards a clean marine environment. Nigerians need to realize that it’s our collective responsibility to make this work”, Ikeazor said.
Also speaking at the event, Senator Tolu Odebiyi who represented the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, revealed that the Senate is developing a bill to combat proliferating of plastic wastes.
“I put up a bill to prohibit the proliferation of plastics that have become very harmful to the environment. We want a bill to place this responsibility on the manufacturers by penalizing them or via surcharges or ensuring they have comprehensive plans for the plastics that we agree to.”
“The Federal Government shouldn’t continue spending huge revenue to clean the gutters and waterways while some companies walk away with billions as profit, yet are responsible for these plastic litters”, he said.
The objectives of Maritime Action Plan on Marine Litters and Plastics include; developing a national roadmap to tackle issues of litters arising from shipping related activities, identify specific actions to be taken by different parties to reduce and eliminate Marine Litter and Plastics from Nigerian seas and oceans, strengthen collaborations in tackling the menace, establishing templates that monitor progress in the fight against Marine Litter and Plastics in the nation’s marine environment.
Other objectives include; to build, operationalize and compliment IMO Action Plan on Marine Litter from Ships, enhance the enforcement of existing laws, conventions and regulations and increase the awareness and understanding of the dangers of Marine Litter and the need for joint effort to tackle it