Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jun 03, 2004
Industry & Economy
UNEP study on pollution of seas, oceans
Kolkata , June 2
EYEING the shark fin soup entry in the menu of the five-star hotel serving coastal delicacies? Then stomach this first - as many as 100 million sharks are killed annually for their meat and fins used for the soup and hunters typically catch the sharks, de-fin them and then throw them back into the sea to drown or bleed to death.
Each year 1,00,000 albatrosses and other birds are killed by long-line fishing which involves spreading 80 mile long lines with thousands of baited hooks.
These are among the findings of a study done by the United Nations Environment Programme. The study, done ahead of the World Environment Day on June 5 and posted on their site, has revealed that oil, plastic waste and destructive fishing activities are among the major sources of pollution of the world's seas and oceans.
Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year, the study has estimated.
Referring to pollution from oil, it said that an estimated 21 barrels of oil ran into oceans each year from street run-off, effluent from factories and from ships flushing their tanks. Over the past decade an average of 6,00,000 barrels of oil have been accidentally spilled from ships
On pollution caused by plastic waste, every year, one million sea birds, 1,00,000 sea mammals and countless fish are killed by plastic waste. "Sea creatures get killed by plastic waste decompose, while the plastic does not. It remains in the ecosystem to kill again and again," the UNEP said.
With three-quarters of the world's mega cities being located by the sea, 80 per cent of pollution in seas and oceans come from land-based activities.
Coral reefs are in particular danger although reefs protect human populations along coastlines from waves and storm by acting as buffers. The Great Barrier Reef, Down Under, measuring 2,000 kilometres in length, is the largest living structure on Earth and is visible from the moon.
Shrimp farming too can be highly destructive causing chemical pollution of water.
It has been largely responsible for the destruction of nearly a quarter of the world's mangroves which act as nurseries for 85 per cent of commercial fish species in the tropics.
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