The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said yesterday in Lagos that issues of marine liter and plastic pollution pose threats to food security and economic activities, unless collective efforts are not put in place to tackle the menace.
The appeal comes just as Nigeria is ranked 2nd in plastic waste in Africa, as it generates an estimated 32 million tons of solid waste per year.
Speaking yesterday at the awareness for Marine Litter and Plastic Management, and the Public Presentation of the Maritime Action Plan on Marine Litter and Plastic Management, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside said it is a known fact that the nation's oceans and seas sustain lives but when the threats to ocean health are numerous, it also affects human beings.
According to him, a report by the World Economic Forum projects that by the year 2050, plastics in the oceans will outweigh fishes.
He said an immeasurable number of coastal communities in Nigeria have no official waste collection service, meaning that there is nowhere for litter to go. Regrettably, he noted that most of the waste generated in these communities end up in the seas and oceans.
He hinted that the overall implications for the Nigerian economy are enormous, adding that the presence of Marine Litter and Plastics in our waters is impacting negatively on the drive to make Nigeria a greener, safer and healthier nation.
Speaking on the steps the agency has taken to repress the menace, he said, it has decided to take action in partnership with others to combat the menace of Marine Litter and Plastics. The result of that coordinated effort is the Maritime Action Plan on Marine Litter and Plastics which we are here to present.
He said Nigeria is among the top countries in Africa contributing plastic waste to the oceans, adding that communities along the coast are paying a huge price for ocean pollution; therefore it becomes imperative that Nigeria tackle this immediately.
"This Marine Litter Action Plan is therefore our own contribution to build the necessary collaboration in tackling this issue that poses a great threat to all of us.
"We hope that the Marine Litter Action Plan will trigger the needed behavioural change in our country, improve development and enable the enforcement of new initiatives to tackle Marine Litter and Plastics.
"We are already recognized by the IMO as the regional leader in tackling Marine Litter and Plastics and as the lead agency saddled with this responsibility, NIMASA have taken a number of actions in the campaign against Marine Litter and Plastics," he added.