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World Oceans Day: Marine litter

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    21st Jun, 2022

Context

The United Nations designated June 8 as World Ocean Day to raise awareness about ways to safeguard the seas.

About

Marine litter:

  • It is any man-made, long-lasting solid material that humans have incorrectly disposed of and that has ended up on the beach, in estuaries, rivers, seas and ocean.
  • It is made of many materials including plastic, rubber, paper, processed wood, textiles, metal, and glass, ceramic and sometimes a mix of them. 
  • Marine litter threatens ecosystems, affects public health and negatively impacts fishery and tourism industries around the globe.

Key Statistics of Marine litter:

  • Plastics are the most common man-made objects sighted at sea, with an estimate of 18,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of the world’s oceans.
  • By 2050 there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastics in landfills or the natural environment.
  • Estimates show that 4.8-12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year from land-based sources.
  • It’s estimated that 100,000 turtles and marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales and seals, are now killed by plastic marine litter every year around the world.

India’s measures 

India is taking strong measures to tackle the menace of marine litter.

  • In 2021, the Government of India prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of several single-use plastic items like plastic flags, plates, cups, spoons and straws from July this year.
  • The Government of India has already banned the import of plastic waste in the country.
  • Many states and Union Territories have gone further, banning identified single-use plastic items like decorative styrofoam / thermocol plastic, cups, glasses, flags, earbuds, candy and ice-cream sticks — all plastic which is less than 100 microns in thickness.

UK-India Intervention:

  • United Kingdom and India agreed a ‘Roadmap 2030’ last year, which sets out an ambitious framework for UK and India partnerships in a wide range of science disciplines, including marine science.
  • Commonwealth Litter Programme (CLiP): Under the CLiP, the UK and India have launched a pilot project to understand deteriorating sea water quality due to marine litter.
    • Under CLiP, the UK has partnered with India for a longer term and channelled the efforts to facilitate the creation of a strong science evidence base to inform India’s National Marine Litter Strategy.
  • The UK is also leading the Global Ocean Alliance: 30by30 initiative which aims to protect 30 per cent of all land and water by 2030. 

World Ocean Day:

  • The idea of World Ocean Day was first proposed by Canada's International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD) and the Ocean Institute of Canada (OIC) in 1992.
  • But only after global collaboration between The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network, and various other scientific institutes and organisations did the UN official recognise June 8 as World Ocean Day in 2008.
  • Theme:
  • The theme for World Ocean Day 2022 is “Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean”.
  • This year's theme focuses on how to not only stop harming the ocean but on actions that need to be taken in order to restore the oceans to their former glory through collective efforts.

Significance:

  • World Ocean Day seeks to promote knowledge about the delicate systems that govern the world's oceanic system and how they're at increasing risk from climate change.
  • From rising pollution, acidification of ocean water, rising average temperatures, to a reduction in ocean biodiversity.
  • Through spreading awareness, World Ocean Day hopes to protect the Earth's major water bodies.
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