Stop dumping plastic and other forms of waste in the ocean - Dr Afriyie

Takoradi, June 9, GNA - The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, says dumping of waste and hazardous chemicals in the ocean is becoming a major threat to its survival.

He has therefore, called for the collective protection of the marine environment.

The Minister bemoaned, “Let’s stop dumping plastics and other forms of waste into the ocean, oil companies must avoid spilling into the ocean, fishermen must not leave their unused nets on the shores to be washed back and communities along the coast should protect the mangroves and other natural habitat around the ocean.”

In Ghana the oil and gas industry, fishing sector and many livelihoods along the coast depended on the ocean, but unfortunately, human pressures, including over exploitation, unregulated fishing practices, habitat destruction, alien species, and climate change are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas.

The Minister, was speaking at Sekondi to celebrate and reflect on 2021 World Oceans Day on the theme "The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods."

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the day re-echoed the responsibility of the present generation to manage the ocean and its related resources sustainably for the future.

The day, also served as a platform to raise global awareness of the benefits derived from the oceans.

Dr Afriyie, therefore charged all stakeholders to step -up the campaign for the utilisation of the ocean resources in a sustainable manner to benefit the present generation.

“It is time for all relevant stakeholders to reinforce public engagement in order to enhance the understanding of what every individual could do to protect the health of our ocean…our actions or inactions as we go about our everyday lives may impact either positively or negatively on the ocean environment. We owe it to future generations to sustainably use the ocean and its resources to ensure the continual provision of its ecosystem services.” he said.

The minister said, the oceans, which was about two-third of the Earth surface, remained the foundation, generating most of the oxygen humans breathe, absorbed a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provided food nutrients and regulated the climate.

It also remained a source of income for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources, and served as the international trade corridor.

The ocean and its resources were increasingly seen as indispensable to address the multiple challenges the planet might face in the coming decades.

“The potential of the ocean to help meet these requirements is huge, but, the ocean is already under stress from overexploitation, pollution, declining biodiversity and climate change. Care needs to be taken to increase the sustainability of the ocean economy while harnessing its benefits."

“The interdependency of ocean-based industries and marine ecosystems combined with increasingly severe threats to the health of the ocean, have led to a growing recognition of the need for an integrated approach to ocean management.” he added.

Dr Afriyie said the robust data, the use of science, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as key steps to ensure that ocean-based industries and marine ecosystems were managed in an integrated manner to respond effectively to the growing challenges.

The Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Henry Kokofu said the ocean was the world's biggest supply of oxygen and must therefore be guarded against any abuse.

The ocean, also helped in carbon sequestration and hence the need to be safeguarded.

The Omanhen of Western Nzema, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, called for collective action to achieve the aspirations of stakeholders and the goals of World Ocean’s Day.