EDITOR: The ocean is under siege from bandits. These bandits are running wild and their mission is to deprive fisher folk of their livelihood and to destroy the biodiversity of the ocean. Who are these bandits? We are the bandits of the ocean.
Agriculture is very imperative for food security and it provides a livelihood for many farmers around the globe; it also contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of many countries. However, a lot of farmers and persons who are involved in back yard gardening are usually pressured into using synthetic fertilizers because they release nutrients very fast for growth and development of their crops.
While this is good, synthetic fertilizers are usually leached away into streams causing “Eutrophication”. Eutrophication is the abundance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous which comes from sources including fertilizer run off, sewage, grey water, etc, which causes an outbreak of algae, depleting the oxygen in the water, causing marine animals and plants to die, which can further lead to a dead zone in the ocean.
Some farmers also construct pig pens close to streams and tie their live stocks close to river banks. When the waste from these animals enter the river, then into the ocean it causes Eutrophication. During heavy rainfall, pesticides are also washed away from farms into streams and the ocean.
In the ocean, they poison the water which can result in the death of many marine animals. Grey water is water from your bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, shower tubs and washing machines, or some persons would call it “soapy water”.
It is not water that has come into contact with faeces. Grey water has a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen which causes Eutrophication.
In some countries there are a lot of households and businesses that empty all of their grey water in the ocean and in the streams.
Single use plastic destroys the aesthetic beauty of beaches which can affect the Tourism Industry. In the ocean, plastics are broken down by sunlight, wind, and wave action into “micro plastics”.
Micro plastics are usually mistaken for food by marine animals and when consumed, it blocks their digestive system causing them to die. Some scientists are of the opinion that by 2050 there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean if nothing is done urgently to alleviate plastics from entering the ocean.
Plastics also make it difficult for sea turtles to lay their eggs at the beach because they cause obstruction and entanglement to both nesting females and emerging hatchlings putting them at risk of being “extinct”.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, some beaches are heavily polluted with plastics and the evidence of this can be seen after a beach clean-up.
Climate change is a disaster to the marine ecosystem. Humans continue to burn fossil fuels which is having a negative impact on the marine ecosystem. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), in 2020, was 149% higher than levels before Industrialization, hitting another annual record. (https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/25/world/emissions-climate-greenhouse-gas-bulletin-wmo-intl/index.html).
Climate change is causing the ocean to get warmer which is causing a lot coral bleaching to occur. According to a Caribbean National Weekly article, coral reefs in the entire Caribbean region continue to be under bleaching watch conditions and
warning conditions are becoming more prevalent.(https://www.caribbeannationalweekly.com/news/caribbean-news/caribbean-coral-reefs-continue-to-be-under-bleaching-conditions/).
Warmer waters would also cause mass migration of marine species in search of the right conditions for feeding and spawning. Ocean acidification also occurs as Pig waste is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous which are essential for plant growth and development.
When you are going at the beach carry a bag with you and throw all your garbage in it, you should then discard that bag in a garbage bin. Leaving all your garbage at the beach would eventually end up in the ocean.
Do not litter in rivers. The river ends in the sea which would mean all the garbage would end up in the ocean.
Countries need to continue to reduce the amount of fossil fuels which are being used which is causing climate change. Smaller countries such as the Caribbean have to continue to advocate for climate justice and climate finance. The Paris Climate Change Agreement would be a total failure if climate change gets worse.
This is a video illustrating the bandits of the ocean.
The ocean is being neglected and is taken for granted. For example, the ocean is a carbon sink. Sea grasses remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere 30 times faster than a rainforest. However, they are under threat from pollution. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the rest of the Caribbean have some of the most pristine beaches in the world and crystal clear water for diving. Let us continue to conserve the ocean and eradicate these bandits from the ocean before it is too late.
This should be the theme for many years to come “Don’t be a bandit of the ocean, conserve it”.