PROTECTING OUR MARINE ENVIRONMENT.

(Photo: GREENPEACE)

World Oceans Day a United Nations sanctioned event is celebrated world over on June 8, with this year’s theme set as Innovation for a sustainable Ocean, it is crucial that the much needed awareness on the importance of protecting our marine environment is circulated as widely as possible. As the regulatory authority of all maritime operations in the country, the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji’s vision is to safe guard and protect Fiji’s vast marine environment, therefore, for the month of June, MSAF’s contribution will solely focus on creating awareness on the need to protect our ocean.

Marine debris can be defined as anything man made, this including litter that is dumped into the ocean and is harmful to the marine environment. The most common material found on our sea beds which can be classified as marine debris are plastic, metal, rubber, wood and to some degree fishing gear. Marine debris is more than an eyesore.

With Fiji recording a total of 1,282,978 km2 as its exclusive economic zone, the need to protect our marine environment is of high importance as almost half of Fiji’s population live along the Island coasts. Protecting our marine environment needs a collective approach from every Fijian, be it as an individual or as a community.

Marine debris poses a great risk to Fiji’s oceans as it has somewhat destroy and drastically reduce the ocean population. Litter strewn and dumped into the ocean kills and injure marine lives this basically through ingestion and entanglement, apart from the two main causes identified earlier, it also introduces the wide dispersive of invasive species which endangers not only human lives but also causes serious damages to shipping vessels.

The effects of marine pollution has a rippling effect on businesses, tourism and most importantly the livelihoods of Fijians who depend on the sea for their food sources, particularly though the pollution of beaches and coastline. A UNESCO reported stated that about 100,000 marine mammals die on a yearly basis due to suffocation and ingestion of plastic.  Majority of rubbish particularly plastic that end up in our oceans are deemed as land waste, this is simply because these rubbish are washed into our oceans due to improper disposal method on land.

There are several harmful impacts of marine pollution but the most prominent impact is how it affects habitats and ecosystem services that humans use, plastic debris can directly obstruct navigation, commercial and recreational fishing and threaten health and safety to name a few.

The Fijian Government has always been vocal in promoting the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, it is now high time Fijians follow suit in practicing the three Rs in their daily lives and it has also been noted that it is a great way to eliminate waste and protect the environment.

Reducing Ocean Pollution

  1. Reduce the use of disposable utensils like straws, cutleries and plastic bags to name a few
  2. Recycle items that can be recycled
  3. Organise clean up campaigns on the beach as often as you can
  4. Use less fertilizer particularly for farming communities along the coastline
  5. Avoid products containing micro beads
  6. Buy ocean-friendly products
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