Experts Move to Tackle Plastic Pollution in Coastal Environments

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Okon Bassey in Uyo

The Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO) has said that the need to tackle plastic pollution in coastal environments in Nigeria could not be over emphasised.

Presently the body is raising awareness on the consequences of plastic pollution, noting that it could damage the environment and pose negative economic impact.

The observations were made when the Faculty of Oceanography, University of Calabar, visited the Ibeno Beach in Akwa Ibom State with students of University of Calabar International Demonstration Secondary School, to monitor how many plastics they could pick from the ocean to reduce Marine Plastic Pollution.

Working in collaboration with Citizens Observation of Local Litter in Coastal Ecosystem (COLLECT), and the University of Calabar, Calabar, the COLLECT Project is surveying plastic pollution on beaches with schools in six African countries contributing to scientific research on plastic pollution.

Leader of the delegation, Professor Francis Emile Asuquo, addressed the students and explained that marine plastic has implications on the ocean.

Asuquo identified one of such implications as its inability to degrade, thus impacting negatively on the fishes, clog fishing nets and waterways.

He said the ocean tour was supported by POGO, an international organisation in United Kingdom, and aimed at conserving and managing the ocean for posterity.

The don told newsmen that the project was working with students to train them on plastic management whenever they embark on coastal tourism, saying that tourism could be adversely affected if the coast is not clean.

“Students and teachers will go to beaches during the month of October to observe and collect plastic litter and together with experts, from universities and research institutes will contribute to the body of knowledge on distribution and abundance of coastal debris in African countries,” he said.

Asuquo, who introduced Oceanography as the study of the physical, chemical, and biological features of the ocean, including the ocean’s ancient history, its current condition, and its future, stressed the need to protect the ocean as attention would soon be shifted to the ocean with the oil drying up.

He maintained that the ocean is the final resort and beneficial to human lives, and stated that humans can impact both positively and negatively on the ocean, hence the need for the exercise.

He, therefore, advised the government and individuals to create enabling environment for the plastics to be sorted out and take steps to recycle plastics for future use.

The Coordinator of the POGO COLLECT Project at University of Calabar International Demonstration Secondary School, Mr. Pius Edor, said that the tour has exposed the students to details about the ocean and helped them to develop flair for its study.

Some of the students, Kekung Cherish, Victor Ita and Ewuwuni Odili described the Ooean tour to Ibeno Beach as thoughtful and fascinating.