The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has inaugurated Marine Litter Marshals to assist the agency in ridding the oceans of unwanted waste materials that could cause environmental degradation and also impede safety of navigation on the nation’s territorial waters.
Speaking during the flag-off at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre in Lagos, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, charged Nigerians on the sustainable use of ocean resources, adding that there are so many activities dependent on the ocean hence the need to ensure it is clean and properly utilised.
Accordingly, the DG said: “The state of health of the ocean is related to the state of our health and our economy; therefore, we must stop the indiscriminate dumping of materials in our ocean.”
He further stated that marine litter directly impacts on ocean life, marine habitats, human health and navigational safety with potential impacts on socio-economic development of nations. This, he stressed, necessitated the agency to collaborate with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Partnership Action (GPA) in 2015 to carry out a scientific study on marine litter challenge in Nigeria, thereby culminating to the development of the national action plan on marine litter and its campaign concept.
Peterside, who used the opportunity to charge the marshals to go to the ports, coastlines and littoral communities and enlighten them on the need to maintain cleaner oceans, enjoined them to also keep watch and ensure that the right thing is done so that the ecosystem can be preserved. He further warned that the agency will not condone indiscriminate dumping of waste at sea.
Earlier, a marine environment expert and the President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo Oladele, had applauded the initiative and described the agency as a beacon of hope to the rest of Africa. He stressed the need to preserve the ocean as it holds a lot of opportunities in developing the nation.
Oladele maintained that the survival of the ecosystem is dependent on the present generation. “The environment is not a gift from our parents, but a loan from our children. We must therefore do all we can to preserve it,” the professor said. The convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters 1972, commonly called the “London Convention” and also abbreviated as Marine Dumping, is an agreement to control pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements supplementary to the convention. It covers the deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matters from vessels, aircraft and platforms.
NIMASA as the agency of government responsible for marine environment management in its continuous quest to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector in line with global best practices has taken the step to engage some young Nigerians as marine litter marshals who are expected to ensure that the oceans are kept clean and safe.