World Oceans Day is observed on 8 June every year to respect, help, protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. Since 2002, the world Ocean Day has been endorsed internationally by the Ocean Project and only since late 2008 it has been officially recognised by the United Nations and celebrated worldwide. The ocean is a major source of resources and services including oxygen, climate regulation, food sources, medicine, and many more. World Oceans Day brings for us an opportunity to think of the ocean in terms of personal care and community action to conserve the ocean and its resources, which is a huge segment of the earth covering three fourth of the total area. Organisations and individuals throughout the world are making it eventful by raising awareness and action plans to protect the world’s oceans.
The theme of World Oceans day 2017 is “Our Oceans, Our Future,” focusing on the prevention of plastic ocean pollution. The modern world has found and proved plastic as a boon to human being because it is a versatile, durable and inexpensive material. The use of plastic is so popular and extensive, the after use fate significantly appear as the huge outpoured waste. It has now succeeded from our surrounding to the ocean as major trash. According to a non-profit Organisation ‘Ocean Conservancy’, plastic debris come out around 85 percent of all the trash collected from beaches, waterways and oceans.
It is found that small plastic fragments are extremely high in marine waters. The non-biodegradable plastic pieces are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces with exposure to sunlight. They are known as microplastics having sizes less than 5 millimetres long. The microplastics can also get washed out of synthetic clothing, like those made of polyester or acrylic, recent study says. There could be as many as 51 trillion microplastic particles in our seas what the United Nations Environment Programme says. Many of them have accumulated and remain as “plastic smog throughout the world’s oceans.”
The sources from which plastic wastes come to the ocean are diverse in nature. More than 80 percent of plastic waste in the oceans comes from land through rivers. As per estimation, rivers annually transport between 1.15 and 2.41 million metric tons of plastic waste into our oceans. Out of the 40,760 rivers studied that fall into ocean, only 20 rivers contribute for two-thirds of the global plastic input. Other sources are beaches, ships and offshore oil and gas platforms, and mismanaged and deliberate waste disposal.
At least 600 different wildlife species are being threatened by plastic garbage, expresses Ocean Conservancy. In one study, researchers have discovered 1 in 4 fish that purchased from fish markets in Indonesia and the United States during 2014 have plastic in their guts. About ninety percent of seabirds are now eating plastics on a regular basis, which may rise to 100 percent by 2050. In that way plastics enter to the human body the seafood.
The plastic pollution in the ocean need to be cleaned in war footing and further release of plastic to ocean is to be prohibited strictly. For this act we have to change our habit, which seems to be hard, but is need of the hour to secure our future. We should promise to recognize our consumption of plastic and how we can change our habits, while celebrating World Oceans Day. Moreover, we have to talk to our family and friends about the importance of reducing plastic-use in our lives and the vicious impacts of plastic pollution.
(Writer is Professor pf Geology in P.G. Department of Geology, Utkal University, Bhubaeswar-He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)