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World Ocean Day: Experts Call for Urgent Action to Curb Marine Pollution

The International Ocean Institute (IOI), has urged people to adopt an attitudinal change from indiscriminately disposing of plastic wastes and other forms of litter in the ocean to protect coastal and marine ecosystems and help boost their chances of survival in the long run.

Managing Director of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) Antonella Vassallo, made the plea in Lagos on Thursday, June 8, during a public lecture organised by the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) in conjunction with International Ocean Institute Nigeria (IOI – Nigeria) Centre to commemorate the 2023 World Ocean Day with the theme: “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”.

The World Ocean Day is marked annually on June 8.

Vassallo, who admitted that the tides are changing, also admonished people to consider whether these changes will be beneficial or detrimental to their lives and livelihoods.

According to her “One way we can change is by becoming more ocean literate. An ocean literate person understands their individual and collective impact on the ocean and its impact on our lives and wellbeing.

“But most importantly an ocean literate person also understands the power of personal and group action to bring about positive change and improvement in favour of the ocean and our future on Planet Ocean,” she said.

Earlier in his opening remarks Director, IOI – Nigeria Centre, Mr. Akanbi Williams, highlighted the need to address challenges such as overfishing, marine pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change impacts.

He said the yearly celebration of Ocean Day as recognised by the United Nations encourages people to adopt responsible practices, such as plastic waste reduction, supporting sustainable fisheries, and protecting marine ecosystems.

H added that day encourages international cooperation and collaboration by providing platforms for sharing knowledge, best practices, and innovative solutions for sustainable management of the ocean.

“People are to take personal actions by participating in beach cleanups, reducing plastic consumption, supporting sustainable seafood choices, and spreading awareness through social media and community initiatives and by participating in events commemorating this day shows that everyone can contribute to the well-being of our oceans. It is time we put the ocean first in our lives,” he charged.

In his lecture, the guest speaker, Mr. Taiwo Adewole, while speaking on the topic “Plastic Pollution: The Problems and the Solution Stories in Nigeria”, disclosed that about 14,000 tons of plastic waste are being generated every day in Lagos state alone.

According to him “The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean and killing marine life could triple in the next 20 years, unless companies and governments can drastically reduce plastic production.

“Single-use plastic consumption has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Solid Waste Association, face masks and latex gloves are washed up daily on remote beaches.

Landfills worldwide are piled high with record amounts of takeaway food containers and online delivery packaging,” she said.

Mr. Adewole, however, clamoured for proper waste management, especially in the area of making wealth from plastic waste by sighting numerous materials made from plastic waste such as pellets, pet bottles, polyester stable fiber, bottle-to-bottle production, plastic bricks, and plastic to fuel, and so on.

In his remark, the Executive Director of NIOMR, Prof. Abiodun Sule, said many animals including man are under threat of survival due to the continuous exploitation of the ocean.

He added that it was, therefore, time for people to put the ocean first through concerted efforts and actions.
Prof Sule who was represented by the Director of, Fisheries Resources Department, NIOMR, Dr. Patience Obatola, said the day highlights the need to create awareness of what is happening to oceans around the world.

“The impacts on humans and other organisms; what we can do to live in harmony with ocean and nature.

“’To man, the life and livelihoods matter, particularly as about a quarter of the human population lives on or near the coast; unsustainable use of the ocean and its resources portend a glooming future for us and next generations.”

Also speaking, the National President, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr. Ebinimi Ansa, said there was a need for individuals to educate themselves and communities about the importance of the oceans.

Ansa, represented by Olalekan Oguntade, an official in the society, underlined the need to instill a sense of stewardship and responsibility in the generations to come.

“By raising awareness and inspiring collective action, we can create a future where our oceans thrive, providing us with sustenance, prosperity, and a vibrant natural heritage,” he said.

Stakeholders in the maritime industry were part of the session including the Head of Fisheries Resources, Dr. Patience Obatola; Representatives of the Nigerian Navy, Hydrographic Office, Lieutenant Commander A.G. Ajegena; Vice President, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr. Lekan Oguntade; Mrs. Peju Ibekwe of Sterling One Foundation; and numerous others who joined remotely from countries around the world.

At the end of the event, there was a demonstration and exhibition of waste-to-wealth products from organisations such as Tidy Nigeria, Craft The Trash, Fare International Foundation, and Ecoviridis Environmental Technology, among others.


By Dare Akogun

Dare Akogun

Dare Akogun is a dynamic media innovator, strategic communication professional, and seasoned climate and environmental sustainability journalist with over 10 years of influential contributions to the media industry.

He Currently serving as the Head of Digital Media, Senior News Editor, and a presenter at Sobi FM 101.9, a leading radio station in Ilorin, Nigeria.

Dare is on a mission to leverage his media innovation expertise and project management skills to produce high-quality, accurate, and engaging content, while advocating for reduced fossil fuel consumption, especially coal, to combat effect of global warming.

He has covered comprehensively environmental issues and COP conferences, including COP28 in Dubai last year , COP 27 in Egypt, and the United Nations Least Developed Countries conference in Doha, in 2023.

He is a recipient of fellowship to be part of a 15 team of journalists selected worldwide to cover the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2024.

He has a Master's Degree in Mass Communication, from the University of Lagos, a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Lagos State University and also a
Certification in Business Administration and Management, from the Babson College, Massachusetts, United States of America.

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