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Marine Pollution facts & steps to prevent it

Marine Pollution facts & steps to prevent it


  • GS 3 || Environment || Environment & Ecology || Pollution

Why in the news?

Ocean and marine pollution is one of the serious matter of concern, it had led to ecosystem disbalance and loss of aquatic life.


  • Oceans encompass more than 70% of the earth’s surface. Its health, humanity’s well-being, and the living environment that keeps us all alive are all intimately intertwined. Despite this, ocean acidification, climate change, polluting activities, and over-exploitation of marine resources have made oceans one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet.
  • The introduction of hazardous chemicals such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste, and chemical particles into the water is known as marine pollution, sometimes known as ocean pollution.

Causes of marine pollution:

  • Ocean mining: At the deepest layers of the ocean, deep-sea ocean mining pollutes and disrupts the ecosystem. Drilling for metals including cobalt, zinc, silver, gold, and copper results in toxic sulfide deposits deep beneath the ocean’s surface.
  • Nonpoint source pollution (Runoff): Nonpoint source pollution originates from a wide range of sources and places. As a result, runoff occurs when rain or snow transports contaminants from the land to the sea. For example, after a severe downpour, water runs off roadways and into the ocean, carrying oil from automobiles parked on the streets with it.
  • Oil spills: Ships are a major source of pollution in the water, particularly when crude oil spills occur. Crude oil stays in the ocean for years and is tough to clean up.
  • Intentional discharge: Toxic waste, including mercury, is released into the ocean by manufacturing industries in various parts of the world. While sewage is dumped into the sea on purpose, it, like plastic goods, contributes to ocean pollution. Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter our seas, according to Ocean Conservancy.
  • Littering: Atmospheric pollution, or items blown by the wind to the ocean, is a significant issue. Plastic bags and styrofoam containers, for example, become suspended in the water and do not disintegrate.

Effects of marine pollution:

  • Harmful to marine animals: Ocean pollution kills a lot of sea creatures. By penetrating marine animals’ gills, oil spills, for example, will entrap and suffocate them. Seabirds may be unable to fly or feed their young if oil seeps into their feathers.
    • Animals that aren’t killed by crude oil may get cancer, modify their behavior, and lose their ability to reproduce.
    • Small plastic waste is frequently mistaken for food by marine creatures, who become entangled in or strangled by plastic bags and abandoned fishing nets. Dolphins, fish, sharks, turtles, seagulls, and crabs are among the animals most vulnerable to plastic trash in the water.
  • Oxygen depletion in seawater: As extra debris in the ocean degrades over time, it consumes oxygen in the process, resulting in less oxygen in the ocean. Ocean creatures such as penguins, dolphins, whales, and sharks die as a result of low oxygen levels.
    • Oxygen depletion is also caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in saltwater. When a region of the water loses a lot of oxygen, it might turn into a dead zone where no marine life can live.
  • Eutrophication: When a body of water gets excessively loaded with minerals and nutrients, causing algae to overgrow or an algal bloom. The water body loses oxygen as a result of this process.
  • Failure of the Reproductive System of Sea Animals: Pesticide chemicals can accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, causing reproductive system failure.
  • A threat to human health:Pollutants in the water make their way back to humans, posing a health risk. Toxins are ingested by small creatures, which are then devoured by larger predators, many of which are seafood that we consume later. Toxins from infected animals can be deposited in human tissue, causing long-term health problems, cancer, and birth abnormalities.

Marine pollution Solutions:

  • Use less chemical fertilizer: Chemical fertilizer that is used in excess eventually ends up in the seas. Use organic fertilizers at half intensity or half as often as recommended, as they tend to be poorer in nutrients.
  • Use reusable bottles and utensils: Disposable plastic bottles and utensils, such as straws, contribute significantly to ocean pollution. Rather than contributing to the threat to marine life, opt for reusable bottles and utensils.
  • Organize a cleaning: Hold a social community cleaning at the beach or a local park. The more garbage you pick up and dispose of correctly, the less rubbish ends up in our seas.
  • Properly dispose of plastics and trash: Properly disposing of plastics and other recyclable items so they don’t wind up in the ocean is one of the simplest methods to prevent ocean pollution. Dispose of garbage in a safe container or take it home with you when visiting outdoor areas such as beaches and parks.
  • Introduce market-based incentives to increase financing for marine pollution prevention and management, based on the “polluter pays” approach.
  • At the regional and national levels, strengthen the institutional and legal framework to address marine pollution.
  • National policies and laws should be in line with international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14).
  • Public-private partnerships should be formed to provide funding, raise public awareness, and develop novel methods to reducing marine pollution

Initiative taken worldwide:

  • The Global Programme of Action (GPA) for Marine Environmental Protection from Land-based Activities: The GPA is the only worldwide intergovernmental process that focuses on the interconnection of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems.
  • Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region: It aims to strengthen actions at national level as well as through collaborative actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris. It also seeks to strengthen national laws and regulations as well as enhance regional and international cooperation including on relevant policy dialogue and information sharing.
  • Greenpeace: This environmental NGO works to protect the seas and marine life all around the world. Its grassroots initiatives have resulted in the prohibition of damaging fishing techniques, company policy changes, and the establishment of whale sanctuaries.
  • International conventions:
  1. The London Convention (1972): Its goal is to encourage effective management of all causes of marine pollution and to take all reasonable efforts to avoid pollution of the sea from garbage and other materials dumped into it.
  2. MARPOL convention (1973):It includes contamination of the maritime environment caused by ships as a result of operational or unintentional reasons.It details the many types of maritime pollution produced by oil, toxic liquid chemicals, packaged hazardous chemicals, sewage, and rubbish from ships, among other things.

Way forward:

In April of this year, the Nordic nations issued a declaration calling for a worldwide convention to address the challenge of marine pollution. This demand was also submitted to the European Union, the UN Environment Programme, the G7, and the G20. The Coast Guard Act of 1978 in India states that the role of the Coast Guard is to preserve and safeguard the maritime environment as well as to prevent marine pollution.

Mains oriented question:

Marine pollution is considered to have a negative impact on not just marine life but also human life. Examine the international community’s efforts to solve the global problem of marine pollution in a critical manner. (200 words)