NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – Kenya has been named as the second worst polluter of marine waters in Africa after Nigeria, according to an international Ocean Conservation report released on Thursday.
The report suggests that Kenya was among five African countries that spewed startling amounts of waste in world oceans, raising new concerns over the rate of environmental degradation in marine life.
The five countries include Tanzania, Egypt and South Africa, which ‘has a much bigger coastline compared to Kenya, and yet its level of debris was significantly lower’, read the Ocean Conservancy Report.
“Kenya had over 91,000 items collected at its coastline, and was only second to Nigeria which had over one million pieces of debris collected from its coastline.”
The report raises alarm at rising marine debris and offers a roadmap for eliminating it by reducing it at the source, through changing behaviours that cause it, and supporting debris prevention policies
“There is an interesting collection of debris in the marine waters such as, over 2,000 condoms were collected in the Kenyan waters of the India Ocean – one of the highest in the world – putting new questions on the government’s commitment on the marine environmental safety,” said Fred Sewe, the local coordinator of International Coastal Clean-up, a grouping of volunteers concerned with the marine eco-system.
Dubbed ‘A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It’, the report covers waste, including those emanating from shoreline, recreational, and waterway activities. It also enumerates waste products from smoking related activities and dumping activities as well as medical and personal hygiene products.
“The list of debris in our waters is an indication of our consumption habits and how we dispose of our waste products,” said Mr Sewe.
“How do you explain over 1,004 pieces of shot gun shells found in the Kenyan waters? Who is dumping these things in our ocean and where are they coming from?”
According to the report, recreational activities are the biggest culprit in the accumulation of debris in the ocean. These activities, including leisure and entertainment contribute over 70 percent of all the debris in the Kenyan waters. The world average is about 80 percent.
“Leisure and entertainment result in debris such as plastic and paper bags, balloons, beverage bottles (plastic and glass) clothing, shoes, food wrappers and containers, straws and toys ending up in the ocean,” Mr Sewe explained.
“This is quite sad and an indication of how casual we are when disposing of our waste.”
Globally, the trash was collected and the data recorded by the nearly 400,000 volunteers around the world who combed local beaches and waterways during last years 23rd International Coastal Cleanup – the largest volunteer effort of its kind.
Volunteers removed nearly seven million pounds of debris, from 6,485 sites in 104 countries with a common mission of improving the health of oceans.
This year’s report zeroes in on the hazardous impacts of trash on wildlife and the resilience of our ocean in the wake of rising sea levels, global warming and acidification of rain, some of the most serious effects of global climate change.
“Thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed by trash in our ocean. Leaky paint cans, empty yogurt cups, and abandoned fishing gear have led to entanglement and suffocation of wildlife. Ingested trash has also cause choking, blockage of the digestive system, or toxic poisoning,” said the clean up coordinator.
The report recommended that by expanding public and private partnerships where more corporations and private citizens join governments, foundations, and non-governmental organisations in the environmental arena, it will assist in monitoring and reducing marine debris.
Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup engages volunteer organizations and individuals to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches and waterways; to identify the sources of debris, and to change the behaviours that cause marine debris in the first place.