In its determination to rid the nation’s territorial waters of unwanted waste materials that impede swift navigation and cause environmental degradation, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has inaugurated Marine Litter Marshals to carry out the responsibility.
Speaking during the flag-off ceremony held at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre in Lagos, the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside charged Nigerians on the sustainable use of the ocean resources and added that there are so many activities dependent on the ocean; hence the need to ensure it is clean and properly utilized.
The DG said, “the state of health of the ocean is related to the state of our health and our economy; therefore we must stop the indiscriminate dumping of materials in our ocean”.
According to him, marine litter directly impacts on ocean life, marine habitats, human health, and navigational safety with potential impacts on the socio-economic development of nations.
He stressed that this necessitated the Agency to collaborate with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global Partnership Action (GPA) in 2015 to carry out a scientific study on marine litter challenge in Nigeria, thereby culminating to the development of the national action plan on marine litter and its campaign concept.
The NIMASA DG charged the marshals to go to the ports, coastlines and littoral communities and enlighten them on the need to maintain cleaner oceans.
He also enjoined marshals to keep watch and “ensure that the right thing is done so that our ecosystem can be preserved,” warning that the Agency will not condone indiscriminate dumping of waste at sea.
Also speaking at the event was a marine environment expert and the President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo Oladele, who applauded the initiative and described the Agency as a beacon of hope to the rest of Africa. He said there is the need to preserve our oceans as it holds a lot of opportunities in developing the nation.
He stated further that there was a need for inter-generational equity of resources, which means the survival of the ecosystem is dependent on this present generation as it will affect the future generation.
“The environment is not a gift from our parents, but a loan from our children. We must, therefore, do all we can to preserve it”, Osinbajo said.
It would be recalled that the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter1972, commonly called the “London Convention” and also abbreviated as Marine Dumping, is an agreement to control pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements supplementary to the Convention.
It covers the deliberate disposal of wastes at sea or other matter from vessels, aircraft, and platforms.
With this new initiative, NIMASA has demonstrated its sense of responsibility for Marine Environment Management in its continuous quest to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector in line with global best practices.
The agency has also taken steps in the right direction by engaging some young Nigerians as marine litter marshals defying the odds of unemployment and economic downturn.