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  • 13 September, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Marine Pollution

What is Marine Pollution?

Marine pollution is a combination of chemicals and trash, most of which comes from land sources and is washed or blown into the ocean. This pollution results in damage to the environment, to the health of all organisms, and to economic structures worldwide. Marine pollution is a part of Water pollution. Click here to read Water pollution topic.

Sources of Marine Pollution:

  • Land Based Activities: Dumping of hazardous waste, heavy discharges from industry, inflow of fertilizers and pesticides from agri fields.
  • Pollution from Open exploration: Offshore drilling.
  • Marine debris: Sunken ships (w their cargo of hazardous material).
  • Ship breaking: Alang in Gujarat leaves toxic material removed from dismantled old ships.
  • Pollution from ships: Accidental oil spills, cleaning process, emissions from engines.
  • Inflow of chemicals, solid waste, discharge of radioactive elements, industrial and agricultural effluents, man-made sedimentation, oil spills.
  • The majority portion comes from the land that contributes to 80% of the marine pollution, air pollution also carries pesticides from farms and dust into the marine waters.

Types of marine pollution:

1) Eutrophication.

  • Addition of Nutrients (Nitrates, Phosphates) through fertilizer, sewage, etc. into lakes is known as Eutrophication.
  • This leads to algal bloom. It reduces the BOD of the lakes.
  • The reduced oxygen level lead to new anaerobic conditions which promote the growth of Clostridium Botulinum bacteria.
  • It is now also in the Coastal waters and not just Lakes.

2) Oceanic Acidification.

Oceanic Acidification

  1. It is the ongoing decrease in the pH of Oceans caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere into the oceans to produce Carbonic acid. The extra carbonic acid molecules react with a water molecule to give a bicarbonate ion and a hydronium ion, thus increasing ocean acidity.
  2. (pH is the measure of relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Acid < 7 and Base > 7).
  3. Acid Rain and Eutrophication locally influence the reaction of CO2 with seawater and adds to the Oceanic acidification.
  4. Impacts of Oceanic Acidification
    1. Carbonate ions are essential to calcification process to build CaCO3 shells and skeletons (Like Hard tropical corals, cold water corals, molluscs, crustaceans, sea urchins, lobsters etc.). Acidification cause increase in concentration of carbonic acid and bicarbonate ions and less carbonate ions, thus preventing Calcification.
    2. It impacts the marine animals, decline in commercial fisheries, increase in the red tide events and affect tourism and indigenous people.
    3. Majority of Sulphur in atmosphere is emitted by Ocean, through DMS (Dimethusulphide) produced by phytoplankton. It reacts to make sulphuric acid, which clumps into aerosols, forming clouds (reflect sunlight). But in acidified ocean water, phytoplanktons produce less DMS. This leads to less cloud formation and increase in global temperatures. Hence Cloud seeding used through Dry ice (Silver iodide).
  5. Solution
    1. Reduce CO2 emissions.
    2. Climate Engineering (mitigating the temperature or pH effects of emissions). It includes adding chemicals to counter the effects of acidification.
    3. Iron fertilization of the ocean could stimulate photosynthesis in phytoplankton. LOHAFEX is an Indo - German iron fertilization experiment carried out in the waters low in silicic acid likely to affect the efficacy of Carbon sequestration. Atlantic Ocean was fertilized with Iron Sulphate. Now Southern Ocean is also fertilized by Iron.
    4. Carbon Negative Fuels: Carbonic acid can be extracted from seawater as CO2 for use in synthetic fuel.
  6. It is called the Evil twin of Global warmin and the other CO2 problem.

3) Plastics and Microplastics.

  1. Plastic includes = Diethylhexyl Pthalet, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury.
  2. Burning of Plastic leads to PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl), Pathogens, Heavy metals in water bodies, Phosgene (COCl2) and Methyl Isocyanate, Dioxins, Furans.
  3. Microbeads = < 1mm. Mainly made of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon. Used in cosmetics (exfoliation), toothpaste, biomedical.

4) Other reasons

Efforts to combat Marine Pollution

  • Automated Moorings to reduce Ocean pollution.

    1. Earlier we had to collect water samples from Ocean and then check marine pollution.
    2. Now coz of this new ocean data acquisition system we can obs marine pollution and help understand how marine system is changing.
  • Global Efforts: Marpol, 1973

    1. International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships = Protocol (legally binding) in 1978.
    2. India is a member. It is a treaty on complete ban on & at sea disposal of plastic.
    3. It has 6 annexures: Oil & Oily Water; Noxious liquid substances; Packaged substances; Sewage from ship; Garbage from ship and Air Pollution from ship.
  • BOBLME project

    1. (Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem) started by FAO in 2009. It gets funding from Global Environment Facility.
    2. It involves all 8 Indian Ocean countries.
    3. Aim is to promote sustainable fishing, reduce marine Pollution and improve coastal livelihood.
  • India - Norway Pollution Initiative to combat Marine Pollution, sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the Blue Economy, beach clean up efforts, increase awareness and collecting information about Marine pollution.
  • UN led Clean Seas Campaign, 2017

    1. Fight against marine plastic litter. For SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production); SDG 13 (Climate Change), SDG 14 (Life below water).
    2. It contributed to UNEP Global Programme of Action (GPA).
      • Created through Washington declaration.
      • To prevent degradation of marine Environment from land based activities.
      • It is the only global initiative directly addressing the connectivity between Terrestrial, Freshwater, Coastal and Marine ecosystem.
      • Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML) launched in 2012 at Rio +20 in Brazil.
    3. Honolulu Strategy is related to marine debris.
    4. Nairobi Convention = For West Indian Ocean Region with healthy rivers, coasts & oceans. It is a partnership between Govt, Civil Society Organizations, Private & part of UNEP.
  • Ocean Cleanup Project

    1. Ocean currents concentrate plastic in five areas in the world: the subtropical gyres, also known as the world’s “ocean garbage patches”.
    2. The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
    3. A floating device designed to catch Ocean plastic waste has been redeployed to clean up an island of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. It is part of the Ocean Cleanup Project.

Source: Aspire IAS Notes

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