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Oil Spills, Marine Litter and Ocean Pollution: Time for Action

It’s hard to believe that the oceans are being threatened by pollution. But, it’s true. One of the most recent threats is plastic pollution in our seas and oceans. And it doesn’t just threaten marine life-it also threatens human lives as well. Plastic litter has become a major environmental pollutant because it can take hundreds of years to break down into smaller pieces, which then enter the food chain when animals ingest them or mistake them for food. This not only harms animals but also humans who consume these animals (e.g., seafood). Plus, plastics make up 80% of all trash floating on the surface of the ocean! That means there is more plastic than fish out there…Alarmingly enough, this figure could increase tenfold over the next decade.

This is why it is extremely important to protect our oceans and seas, which in turn protects all marine life and human lives as well! So we need to know the major causes of ocean pollution so we can take action against them. Let’s look at how oil spills, plastic litter and other forms of marine litter endanger our oceans and seas…

What You Need to Know Before Trading on the Sea

Oil spills are one of the major causes of ocean pollution. They cause irreparable damage to marine life in the surrounding areas, not to mention the impact they have on coastal people who depend on fish for food or tourism. The health hazards caused by oil spills are both immediate (e.g., burning eyes, blurred vision, nausea) and long-term (e.g., organ damage, cancer). While the world has seen tremendous improvements in oil spill recovery operations over the years, they are not fail-proof. Oil spills have led to millions of dollars in losses for exporting countries, especially developing nations that depend on fisheries exports .

So what causes so many oil spills? Well, it’s human error. The main causes of oil spills are tanker accidents (60%), operational activities (e.g., loading/unloading cargo) (33%) and small-scale events (e.g., corrosion, vandalism) (7%). But this is why there are safety precautions in place to prevent oil spills from happening, such as tank inspections. Unfortunately, these safety precautions are not foolproof either because of the negligence of workers on board vessels, for example.

Marine litter is another major source of ocean pollution. This includes all man-made waste that ends up in the oceans and seas. The most common forms are plastics (e.g., bags, bottles, cans), chemical sludge from industrial plants and sewage sludge from populated areas. These forms of marine litter have devastating effects on marine life in the surrounding areas-the animals get entangled in the litter or mistake it for food. Also, plastics break down into tiny pieces that enter the food chain when animals ingest them or prey on other animals that have ingested them. So it is important to prevent the production of these forms of marine litter before they become a problem in our oceans and seas.

Plastic bags, bottles and other forms of plastics make up 80% of all trash found on the surface of oceans and seas…

Other common forms of marine litter include: abandoned ships (e.g., cargo ships, oil tankers), abandoned nets, drums and containers, debris from natural disasters (e.g., tsunamis). These are all forms of solid waste that contain chemicals or contaminants harmful to marine life in the surrounding areas.

Oil spills, plastic litter and other forms of marine litter lead to toxic contamination in our ocean waters. This, in turn, harms marine life that live in the surrounding areas. Besides the direct effects on these animals (e.g., death), it can also have indirect effects on humans-both coastal people who depend on fish for food or tourism and any human who consumes animals that ingest pieces of plastic or other forms of marine litter.

Conclusion

The world is facing a major threat to its oceans and seas. One of the most prominent sources of pollution in these bodies of water are oil spills, which cause irreparable damage to marine life in the surrounding areas not to mention the impact they have on coastal people who depend on fish for food or tourism. Oil spills can also lead to millions of dollars in losses for exporting countries, especially developing nations that depend on fisheries exports. There’s no denying that human error plays a huge role when it comes to oil spill accidents-the main causes being tanker accidents (60%), operational activities (e.g., loading/unloading cargo) (33%) and small-scale events (e.g., corrosion, vandalism) (7%).

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