Plastics pose biggest  threat to oceans - govt

12Sep 2018
Beatrice Philemon
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
 Plastics pose biggest  threat to oceans - govt

TANZANIANS have been urged to stop throwing plastic products into the oceans to protect fish and other marine resources that are important for human consumption as well as to help the country to earn foreign currency.

Currently, marine pollution, overfishing, and uncontrolled small scale fishing threatens the sustainability of the fisheries sector, a resource base on which many Tanzanian poor coastal communities depend.

The remarks was made yesterday by Dr Hamis Nikuli, deputy managing director, Aquaculture Division in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock during the official opening of the Policy Day that was organised by Environment for Development (EfD) at the University of Dar es Salaam.

The conference was themed, “Conservation and Sustainable use of Tanzania Marine Resources in line with 2018 world environmental day and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG14)”.

He said plastic products have so far created problems for marine resources and continue to be a challenge to marine life.

“We use plastics everyday in our homes, schools, offices, and during our travels within the country and overseas and even our modern world has become so dependent on the convenience of mass produced, readily available plastic products like disposable bags, bottles and cups that it's surprising to consider that the world was once plastic free,” he noted.

He said the overwhelming reliance on plastics has created environmental problems such as crowded landfills, groundwater contamination and ocean debris those future generations will be cleaning up.

Dr Nikuli called on Tanzanians to stop using plastic products because a plastic bag can take 400-1000 years to rot away in the environment and as it breaks down, plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways and later on enter the food web when animals accidentally ingest them.

He said in the ocean, these particles eventually end up in massive whirlpool like currents in the oceans called gyres.

He said when fish and other marine animals ingest plastic debris, they are also ingesting these toxins and if the food we eat is contaminated with toxins, we will too be affected.

Dr Nikuli emphasized on environmental protection saying the environment has always been a source of livelihoods for mankind and human activities and other natural events contribute to its degradation.

“I understand that the objective of EfD is to support development and reducing poverty for sustainable development through capacity building on policy making process,” he noted.

According to research by EfD the world emphasises on protection of natural resources following the growing populations with increases economic activities associated with unsustainable management.

The ministry official noted that the theme of the conference was inspiring because it focused on SDG14 which is about life under water and pledges to conserve and ensure sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

He called on all research institutions to forge good links between researchers and policy makers which will facilitate easy access of science based guidelines and strategies for resolving the existing challenges.

Dr Nikuli added that the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries is ready to receive research findings that will facilitate development of fishing industry as well as to see copies of journals, newsletters, Abstract and others at the ministry for policy makers to use them in their routines.

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