Ocean Action Hub

Land-based sources (such as agricultural run-off, discharge of nutrients and pesticides and untreated sewage including plastics) account for approximately 80% of marine pollution, globally. Marine habitats worldwide are contaminated with man-made debris. Oil spills remain a concern, though actual spills have decreased steadily for several decades. SDG 14.1 calls for the prevention and significant reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, by 2025.

Excessive nutrients from sewage outfalls and agricultural runoff have contributed to the increasing incidence of low oxygen (hypoxic) areas known as dead zones, where most marine life cannot survive, resulting in the collapse of some ecosystems. There are now close to 500 dead zones with a total global surface area of over 245,000 km², roughly equivalent to that of the United Kingdom. The excess nitrogen can also stimulate the proliferation of seaweeds and microorganisms and cause algal blooms. Such blooms can be harmful (HABs), causing massive fish kills, contaminating seafood with toxins and altering ecosystems.

Litter can accumulate in huge floating garbage patches or wash up on the coasts. Light, resistant plastics float in the Ocean, releasing contaminants as they break down into micro-particles that animals mistake for food. Fish and birds can choke on these particles, get sick as they accumulate toxins in their stomachs, or become entangled in larger debris.

As the world saw in 2010, the Gulf of Mexico deep-water oil spill had a devastating effect on the entire marine ecosystem, as well as the populations that depend on the marine areas for their livelihoods. Smaller oil spills happen every day, due to drilling incidents or leaking motors, negatively impacting birds, marine mammals, algae, fish and shellfish.

SOURCE: UNESCO website

Latest

1 Aug 2019 - This industry has started to move towards sustainability, including cutting GHG emissions and sulphur content of fuel oil and the new Ballast Water Convention.

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31 Jul 2019 - An inaugural female-led beach clean-up exercise has helped raise awareness of the problem that marine litter poses to the environment.

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30 Jul 2019 - NPR - There are signs that the status quo is changing and a new fuel could make cargo ships among the cleanest transport methods on Earth.

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26 Jul 2019 - NYTimes - Design Triennial envisions the possibilities for algae, yeast & other nonpolluting materials. Will they help save the planet?

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25 July 2019 - The hotter it gets, the more the stuff in plastic can move into food or drinking water.

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16 Jul 2019 - Marine invasive species can be hard to eradicate and represent a major threat to the Pacific's marine biodiversity and SIDS' ecological integrity.

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15 Jul 2019 - Each year, we expose the world’s waterways to an increasing variety of pollutants — plastic debris, chemical runoff, crude oil and more.

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11 Jul 2019 - 75-80 % of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. States are taking action and momentum is building.

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9 Jul 2019 - Tiny plastic particles may also be a vehicle for microbes that sicken or even kill corals, a new study finds.

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5 Jul 2019 - UNGA President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said she looks forward to its adoption "by consensus" during the opening session of the Summit, on 24 September.

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27 Jun 2019 - Until recently we didn’t know how much plastic was piling up around us. When we found out, the picture wasn’t pretty. The Guardian US investigates.

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25 Jun 2019 - So far about 2,000 kg of broken rubber sandals have been recycled, turned into stylish handmade sandals by a group of women in southern Thailand. 

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