Preventive Measures To Control The Pollution Of The Mediterranean Sea

As much as mankind wants to pursue their life in a healthy, clean and pollution free environment and are striving hard to achieve the specific lifestyle by innumerable researches and tremendous amount of inventions. So does marine life needed to live their life in a healthy and pollution free environment. But unfortunately today the world is moving towards the wrong path of pavement and is leading towards the countless problems not only to themselves but also damaging the other segments of ecosystems. Today may be the world is climbing high towards the fourth generation or fifth generation by means of technological aspects but it is inattentive to the hazardous issue of pollution of which water pollution puts a paramount importance.

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The “Mediterranean Sea Region” is the largest semi-enclosed European sea. It is surrounded by 22 countries and these countries shared a coastline. It is famous for the largest shipping route. One third of its population live along the coastal region. The “Mediterranean Region” is one of the classic examples of many problems related to its environment. Rivers and sewage outfalls near the industrial centres carry almost 92% of Mercury inputs in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean is the second highest region having great number of “Biodiversity”. It is also identified as one of the main “Climate Changing Hotspot”. The region itself emits low level of “Green House Gases” as compared to other areas in the world. Mediterranean countries together emit 6.7% of the world’s emitted CO2.

European countries are considered among the richest countries in the world. Their population is 20% and they use 80% of the total world’s resources. As they use more and more resources, hence produce more pollution due to elimination of solid waste in the form of plastic products and heavy metals that not only effect the “Mediterranean Sea” but also the neighbouring countries. Water pollution in “Mediterranean Sea” occurs due to innumerable reasons discussed as: Europe is every time ready to prepare and release plastic products. More than eight million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year. Use of plastic products i.e disposable plates, plastic bottles, coffee cups, street food wrappings etc increases day – by- day in the European countries. Due to over population the need and use of resources in these countries also increases. So to overcome their needs these countries try to adopt easy and convenient ways but this convenience creates difficulty for all living beings of that region. So to overcome the problem we should use an alternate method to fulfill the needs i.e we should use “Reusable and Washable” products instead of disposable products i.e cups and dishes.

Plastic bags are used in excess amount not only in European countries but also throughout the world. Nowadays we not only use the resources but overuse them and as famous saying is that: “Excess of everything is bad”. The quote is suitable here. We use these plastic bags excessively and then throw them in the streets as a waste instead of using bins. Later on these plastic bags become part of our water bodies via rain water or any other source and hence pollute the water. Besides the marine life chew these products and due to undigestible nature they become threat for marine life, when they ingest but not digest them. Fast-track the full implementation of existing legislation such as the Waste Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive, and Directive on lightweight carrier bags promotes the use of monetary based instruments for other common marine litter products. Prioritise action on single use plastics in the EU Plastics Strategy through extended producer responsibility. Encourage wider use of instruments that have been proven to work e.g bottle deposit refund schemes in Germany and plastic bag taxes in Ireland.

Many other causes of pollution due to human activities are as follows: As the region is famous for highest population rate and where population increases; needs and requirements also increases. Livestock is also one of them. Mostly the livestock waste is either being dumped on the open land or is discharged into sewage, canals or rivers. The chemical and bacterial contents in livestock waste can contaminate the surface and ground water causing many infectious diseases i.e. Dysentry, Typhoid and Hepatitis. Detergents are excessively used as a household item day-by-day. Detergents are disposed in water bodies and this waste water when discharged in sea; greatly affects the aquatic life, when heavy metals i.e. Lead, Mercury and Cadmium move from sediments into the water due to these detergent contents of waste water.

As Mediterranean Sea is one of the largest shipping route, it is one of the main reasons of pollution of Mediterranean sea. Sea wtaer gets polluted by the accidental “Oil spills” and leakage from cargo oil tankers in sea and pipeline leakage during offshore exploration. Many petroleum products are poisonous and pose serious health problems to humans, animals and aquatic life. The marine organisms are severely affected by the soluble “Aromatic Fractions” of oil (C-10 or less). The spilled oil damages the marine life, often causing death.

Wide spread use of pesticides for getting greater crop yields ; if not properly checked and controlled has associated risks of contaminating the soil, plants, and water. When synthetic organic chemicals, present in these pesticides are ingested through food or drinking water can cause health problems. At high concentration these organic chemicals cause Nausea, Dizziness, Tremors and Blindness.

Industrial waste effluents are also the major cause of polluting the sea water i.e these waste products may be in the form of waste heat, smoke, solid or waste water effluents. These effluents also contain the highly toxic organic copmpounds and heavy metals i.e Pb, Cd, Hg, Cr, As, Sb etc. These chemicals results in the contamination of surface and ground water because these chemicals have accumulation effects when ingested through food or water and cause various diseases i.e Anemia, Kidney diseases, Nervous disorders, High blood pressure etc.

Actions with the most potential to tackle marine litter that can be addressed through updating the current legislative framework include: A harmonised CRS at a regional level. Incentivises both waste minimisation at sea, removes disincentives to deliver at ports and is tailored appropriately to very difficult users (for instance, cruise ships). Removing exceptions such as those for military vessels, small vessels and fishing vessels. The mandatory reporting of waste delivery receipts and centralising handling of waste notification and delivery information at ports, and an effective exchange of this information between inspection authorities. Clarifying and harmonising inspection regimes under the PRF so that appropriate numbers of ships can be efficiently assessed for the risk of illegal discharge of garbage and inspected. Under MARPOL Annex IV, sewage may be discharged at a regulated discharge rate when outside “special areas” for sewage and more than 3 miles from land if the sewage has been comminuted or disinfected, and more than 12 nautical miles from land if the sewage is raw.

Use of “Microbeads” is one of the major causes of pollution. Microbeads are the tiny plastic products that are common in cosmetics, soap and other personal caring products. These products are produced on large scale in industries not as per need. When these products having these microbeads are not controlled properly and disposed freely in surroundings then they become the part of water bodies and hence pollute the sea water. These microbeads easily reach the sea water and hence directly or indirectly become the part of human food chain.

Provide leagal clarity on the definitions of different pollutants e.g microbeads, macro-debris, and polystyrene (i.e on issues of biodegradibility, particle size, and applications of products). Implement reward-based programs to incentivize ckean-up activities and provide appropriate port reception facilities for fishermen. Support research on the impacts of microplastics on marine biodiversity, public health (i.e via ingestion) and the economy (i.e fisheries) use promotional evidence. Promote transparency through clear labelling on personal care cosmetic products.

There are various scientific methods to solve these problems i.e 3 R’S methods and these are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:

  • “REDUCE” is a simple method that explains how to lessen the use of plastic products. And this can only be applicable by reducing the use of single – use plastics, participate in a beach or river cleanup, support bans, avoid the overuse of plastic products, stay informed on issues related to plastic pollution and spread awareness among people. Also remain in contact or be the part of organizations working on this problem i.e Oceanic society, Plastic pollution coalition, 5 Gyres, Algalita, Plastic soup foundation.
  • “REUSE” is a simple method from recycling. It means that instead of throwing the plastic litter on the roads or streets; make it useful. There are various convenient methods to reuse the plastic products as: Use plastic bottles or any other product to make pencil holder boxes, reuse the coffee creamer plastic containers for snacks storage, create a plastic planter ( plastic pots for plants) by using the plastic bottles, create watering cans, create money saver i.e piggy banks by using the plastic produсts. This can be very helpful in the elimination of plastic pollution.
  • “RECYCLING” is the most easy, simple and convenient method of all above. In recycling some of the used or waste materials are not discarded after their initial use but are processed so that they can be used again. The purpose of recycling is to conserve sources such as raw material and energy. The volume of waste is also much reduced by recycling of the materials. The most common materials that are recycled are paper, plastic, glass, aluminium.

The recycling of plastics is done by Reprocessing, Depolymerization or Transformation:

  • In Reprocessing the used plastics are remelted and Styrene which is used for manufacturing of different products e.g the original use of polystyrene is for the manufacturing of foam, packaging, cutlery, furniture etc but after it’s reprocessing it is used mostly for the manufacturing of toys, trays etc.
  • In Depolymerization the plastic is converted back to its original form by chemical or thermal processes so that theses can be subsequently polymerized again e.g polyethylene terephthalate can be thermally depolymerized in the presence of catalyst and heat into its original components.
  • In Transformation the plastic is converted into low quality substances for further use e.g cracking of polyethylene at high temperature gives its monomers which are used for the manufacturing of lubricants.

Recommendations to be extended at UNEP are:

  • Establishment of MOUs at United Nations Environment Program, on improved policies of taxation, penalties and punishments over plastic deposition in Mediterranean setting. Awareness sessions on emergency conditions of plastic pollution in Mediterranean Sea, in Model United Nations all over the world.
  • Every problem has a solution and every solution comes when there is an absolute desire to deduce it. However in the light of above mentioned propositions each and every pollutant can be eradicated from the maritime and the environment can be made pollution free by inducing effective policies by several segments of pollution control organisations.

References

  1. www.eea.europa.eu/soer-2015/countries/mediterranean. “Mediterranean sea Region Briefing”
  2. G. Luciani, ed, ‘The Mediterranean Region’, Croom Helm, London, 1984, p 16.
  3. G.H. Blake, ‘Mediterranean non-energy resources: scope for cooperation and dangers of conflict’, in G. Luciani, ed, ‘The Mediterranean Region’, Croom Helm, London, 1984, p 16.
  4. Giorgi, F., 2006, ‘Climate change hotspots’, Geophysical Research Letters 33(8), pp. L08707.
  5. www.eea.europa.eu
  6. www. oceanicsociety.org
14 May 2021

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