Determined to reduce the economic impact of Marine Litter and Plastics on Nigerian waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has launched a Maritime Action Plan on Marine Litter and Plastics, aimed at setting a national roadmap towards tackling marine waste pollution.
Speaking at the launch event held in Lagos on Thursday, Dakuku Peterside, director general of NIMASA expressed optimism that the Action Plan will trigger the needed behavioural change in Nigeria by improving development and enable the enforcement of new initiatives to tackle Marine Litters and Plastics.
According to him, the presence of marine litters and plastics is impacting negatively on the drive to make Nigeria a greener, safer and healthier nation.
“With the launch of the action plan, we are taking a stand with the coastal communities, industries and other stakeholders by pledging that we shall no longer ignore the effects of Marine Litter and Plastics on biodiversity, marine life, navigation and human health,” he said.
Peterside also warned that the agency would not continue to ignore the negative impacts of marine activities like fishing, oil and gas drilling, shipping and ecotourism.
On the impact, he stated that a report by the World Economic Forum projects that by the year 2050, plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish if not mitigated.
He said that of 260 million tons of plastic produced in the world each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean and 70 percent of the mass eventually sinks, damaging life on the seabed.
He further stated that the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) study says that 83 percent of the 4.8–12.7 million tons of land-based plastic waste that ends up in the ocean from the 192 coastal countries originates from 20 countries including Nigeria.
A study by Africa Impact Sustainable Initiative also reports that approximately 500 shipping containers of waste is dumped in Africa every month.
These occurrences, Peterside said, are not only evident globally or continentally, but also in Nigeria, which is among top 20 nations that contribute 83 percent of total volume of land based plastic waste that end up in the oceans/seas.
“It is estimated that over 200,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste from land-based sources in Nigeria, is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean each year,” he stated.
Emphasising that this poses a great danger to the environment and marine ecosystem, he said that an immeasurable number of coastal communities in Nigeria have no official waste collection service, meaning that most of the waste generated in these communities ends up in the seas and ocean.
Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, who stated that government agencies and ministries cannot work in isolation, if they were to succeed in the business of protecting the environment, pointed out the need for collaboration.
She said that Nigeria does not lack in putting laws and policies in place but, the country is lacking a great deal in the area of enforcement.
“We are going to reposition the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) an environmental agency to deliver on its mandate.
According to her, the ministry is at the verge of amending the NESREA act to draw a clear line for the agency to take note of its responsibilities without interference and duplication of functions.