Nigeria must find structural solutions to plastic waste management and pollution from international cargo vessels to reduce the impact of indiscriminate dumping of waste in water on safe shipping, experts said.
Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday at the opening of the ongoing Lagos Maritime Week (LIMWEEK 2023) organised by the ZOE Maritime Resources Ltd, Michel Deelen, consul-general of the Republic of Netherlands in Lagos, said Nigeria needs to find structural solutions for waste management by manufacturing companies, structural solutions for disposing of plastic wastes, and for the way with which international cargo vessels operate.
Pointing out that the fuel used on international cargo vessels is sometimes not the best quality environmentally, Deelen said a lot of progress still needs to be made in promoting the use of cleaner fuel in shipping.
He said the impact of maritime environmental pollution is seen when beaches in Lagos, which is why the World Beach Clean-up Day is also essential.
“Blue economy has many potential for fishery, job creation, and most importantly energy generation which is where we would like to collaborate with Nigeria in the future to see how we can develop the power sector,” Deelen said.
Presenting a lecture themed: ‘MARPOL at 50- Pollution from Ships, Africa’s Commitment to Clean Oceans, Inland Waters and the Marine Environment,’ Florentina Ukonga, immediate past executive secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), said MARPOL Convention covers the prevention of pollution of the maritime environment by ships whether from operational or accidental causes.
Citing the Oganiland oil spill as an example, she said the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is right in setting up the standards for ships to prevent them from polluting the marine environment.
According to her, pollution of the marine environment does not come only from ships but from other activities such as spills from oil rigs, and dumping of industrial waste and household waste into the water.
“Nigeria is among the 26 African countries that have ratified MARPOL. Having ratified it, Nigeria has demonstrated its commitment to the convention. Nigeria and other African countries must uphold the provisions of the convention by keeping their marine environment clean and safe from pollution,” Ukonga said.
On his part, Abdulkadir Ahmed, managing director/CEO of the NLNG Shipping and Marine Services (NSML), said the beauty of the MARPOL convention is that it governs and provides standards that will address marine pollution by identifying all the various things to do as a ship operator, regulator, and maritime nation.
He said there is a need for maritime nations to domesticate the convention into local laws before it can be a standard practice after which enforcement comes in.
“Enforcement comes from the regulator that is expected to use both the stick and the carrot at the same time by creating an enabling environment for players to adhere but more importantly players need to self-regulate,” he added.
Earlier, Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, chair of Zoe Maritime Resources, said the sustainable development of the ocean economy is critical to Africa’s growth.
She said the cleanliness of the body of waters surrounding Africa and the state of inland waters, creeks, and rivers are critical for Africa’s survival.