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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Your environment. your health., new study finds ocean pollution a threat to human health.

By Megan Avakian

empty plastic bottle on beach

While plastic debris is the most visible component of ocean pollution and is rapidly accumulating, it is the invisible chemicals, particles, metals, and biologic toxins that have been shown to affect human health. (Photo courtesy of Catherine Sheila/Pexels)

Ocean pollution poses a clear and present danger to human health and well-being, according to a new study from an international group of researchers. The study sounds the alarm that the growing global problem, which scientists are only beginning to understand, requires urgent and immediate action. It is a call to mobilize, say the authors who offer a path forward via pollution prevention and research recommendations.

“Ocean pollution is a widespread, worsening, and poorly controlled problem that is directly affecting human and ecosystem health,” said lead study author Philip Landrigan, M.D., director of the Boston College Global Observatory on Pollution and Health. “It is a complex mix of toxins that, until now, has not received the systematic attention it deserves.”

The study, funded in part by NIEHS and coordinated by the Centre Scientifique de Monaco with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, is the first comprehensive examination of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health.

An Unjust Burden

Covering more than two-thirds of the planet, the oceans provide food, livelihoods, and cultural and recreational value to billions around the world. Ocean pollution, which stems primarily from human activities, threatens these many benefits.

More than 80% of ocean pollution comes from land-based sources, making its way to the seas through runoff, rivers, atmospheric deposition, and direct discharges. It is most highly concentrated along the coasts of low- and middle-income countries.

“Ocean pollution is deeply unjust. Its impacts fall most heavily on low-income countries, coastal fishing communities, people on small island nations, indigenous populations, and people in the high Arctic – groups that for the most part produce very little pollution themselves,” explained Landrigan. “These populations rely on the oceans for food. Their survival depends on the health of the seas.”

Multiple Pollutants, Multiple Health Effects

infographic showing the ocean pollution-berg with plastic waste, oil spills, mercury, chemicals, pesticides and nutrients

Ocean pollution is a complex mixture. Click image to enlarge. (Photo courtesy of Will Stahl-Timmins)

Ocean pollution is a complex mixture made up of mercury, plastic waste, manufactured chemicals, petroleum wastes, agricultural runoff, and biological threats, like harmful algal blooms. People are exposed to these toxins mainly by eating contaminated seafood.

Coal combustion is the major source of mercury pollution in the oceans. When coal is burned, mercury enters the atmosphere and eventually washes down into the sea. The authors noted that when a pregnant woman eats mercury-contaminated fish, the mercury can damage her child’s developing brain resulting in IQ loss and behavior problems. In adults, consumption of mercury-contaminated fish increases risk for heart disease and dementia.

Plastic waste makes up an estimated 80% of marine pollution. About 10 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, killing seabirds, fish, and marine mammals. It breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics that absorb a range of chemicals floating in the marine environment, including pesticides and toxic metals. These chemical-laden particles are ingested by fish and shellfish and then passed on to seafood consuming humans. Microplastics may harm marine and human health, but the risks are still largely unknown.

“There's a lot of work needed to better understand the composition, toxicity, and potential human health impacts of microplastics, but it’s likely that it’s pretty substantial,” said Landrigan.

The chemicals used to manufacture a range of products, from consumer goods and food packaging to cleaning products and pesticides, also end up in the seas. The authors wrote that of the thousands of manufactured chemicals and chemical mixtures that pollute the world’s oceans, humans are most likely to be exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated substances, and pesticides through eating contaminated seafood. These chemicals have been shown to cause a wide range of health effects in humans such as cardiovascular disease, developmental and neurobehavioral disorders, metabolic disease, immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and cancers.

Algae are essential components of aquatic food webs and ecosystems. But too much of a good thing can be toxic. Harmful algal blooms (HAB) occur when toxin-producing algae grow excessively in ocean waters. Warming sea waters make formerly unsuitable habitats habitable, leading to a range expansion of HAB species and the human populations they affect. Industrial waste, agricultural runoff, pesticides, and human sewage can all spur a HAB event. People are exposed to HAB toxins from eating contaminated fish and shellfish. These toxins can cause dementia, amnesia, other neurological damage, and death.

Climate Change Magnifies the Problem

“Ocean pollution and climate change are both components of planetary health. The two problems largely arise from the same source: the combustion of fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That in turn leads to a whole series of problems,” said Landrigan.

For example, a warmer climate melts glaciers and permafrost, freeing legacy pollutants from ice. Rising sea temperatures increase the number and expand the range of marine microbes that can cause disease. As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase, so too does the amount that oceans absorb. This results in more acidic waters that can erode coral reefs and calcium containing organisms such as plankton that are the base of the marine food chain. Ocean acidification can also increase the toxicity of certain heavy metals and chemicals.

A Path Forward

The authors close with optimism and offer a series of case studies, policy, and research recommendations to save the planet’s oceans.

“The key thing to realize about ocean pollution is that, like all forms of pollution, it can be prevented using laws, policies, technology, and enforcement actions that target the most important pollution sources,” said Landrigan.

The authors call for eliminating coal combustion to reduce ocean bound mercury pollution and a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Banning single-use plastics, like straws and plastic bags, can reduce the amount of plastic pollution entering oceans. Controlling coastal pollution and expanding Marine Protected Areas, sometimes call the “national parks of the ocean,” can safeguard critical ecosystems, protect vulnerable fish stocks, and improve human health and well-being.

“Many countries have used these tools and have successfully cleaned fouled harbors, rejuvenated estuaries, and restored coral reefs. The results have been increased tourism, restored fisheries, improved human health, and economic growth. These benefits will last for centuries.”

A Role for Research

On the research side, the authors stress that a better understanding of the human health impacts of ocean pollution can provide the evidence base needed to inform protective policies. Among the research priorities, they call for improved ocean pollution monitoring, studies of human exposure to ocean pollutants and health effect biomarkers, and a better understanding of the effects of exposure to multiple ocean pollutants.

“There is a real need to better understand how exposure to mixtures, like ocean pollution, affect health. This is one area where I see the environmental health community playing a role in advancing ocean pollution and human health research,” said John Stegeman, Ph.D., second author on the paper and director of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health, which is co-funded by NIEHS and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Another skill set environmental health scientists bring to the table is community engagement. “Globally, there is a need to involve communities and medical professionals in oceans research. NIEHS has long recognized the benefit of community engagement, and its grantees have developed community engagement best practices that could be key in helping us better understand and prevent ocean pollution exposures,” said Stegeman.

NIEHS has supported research on marine-related health issues since the 1970s. Grantees are studying coastal populations to better understand how people are exposed to ocean pollutants and health effects of exposure. They are exploring how climate change affects distribution and toxicity of HABs and developing sensors and technologies to better predict HAB events and prevent exposure. In 2004, NIEHS and the NSF launched the Centers for Oceans and Human Health program that funds interdisciplinary research centers around the country.

Stegeman concluded that “Understanding ocean pollution is a highly interdisciplinary endeavor. In our center, we have basic biomedical scientists, toxicologists, biological and physical oceanographers, environmental modelers, chemists, and engineers all working together. It takes a collaborative environment like that created through the NIEHS-NSF Centers for Oceans and Human Health program to fully understand how our oceans impact human health.”

NIEHS identifies Global Environmental Health (GEH) as a part of its strategic themes, recognizing that because environmental health problems cross national boundaries, conducting studies around the world benefits not just those in areas being studied, but all people who suffer from the same or related environmental health problems.

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Essay on marine pollution: top 5 essays.

marine pollution essay

Read this essay to learn about Marine Pollution. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Meaning of Marine Pollution 2. Causes of Marine Pollution 3. Effects 4. Policies 5. Control.

Essay Contents:


Essay # 1. Meaning of Marine Pollution :

The Earth’s oceans are all connected to one another. Until the year 2000, there were four recognized oceans:

The Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic. In the spring of 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization delimited a new ocean, the Southern Ocean (it surrounds Antarctica and extends to 60 degrees latitude). There are also many seas (smaller branches of an ocean). Seas are often partly enclose d by land. The largest seas are the South China Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

The following table shows the approximate area of sea with their approximate depth.

About 2/3 of the earth’s surface is covered with water of oceans and sea. They are life sources for many plants and animals and playing a crucial role in the chemical and biological balance of life on the planet. But increasing pollution has not left them free from pollutants. Increase of these pollutants in such amount that conditions of sea changes physically, chemically and biologically is called Marine pollution.

The main cause of Marine pollution or sea pollution is discharge of waste substances into sea.

The habitats of marine mammals and fish have been degraded severely with pollution responsible for the mass deaths of fish, mammals and corals. Day-by-day increasing pollutants like organochlorine, pesticides, fertilizers, oils and a range of other toxic pollutants accumulates with in fishes and through them to man to cause reproductive disorders.

Pollution and warm ocean waters have also degraded coral reefs in several areas. Due to agricultural wastes run off and waste water; low oxygen dead zones are developed in coastal ocean waters. Excess N 2 has promoted the growth of algae, which promotes toxic organisms like cholera.

According to a rough estimate, about 12000 tonnes of lead, 17000 tonnes of copper, 70,000 tonnes of zinc, 8000 tonnes of arsenic, 900 tonnes of barium, 70000 tonnes of manganese, 6000 tonnes of chromium, 3800 tonnes of antimony, 17000 tonnes of iron, 7000 tonnes of mercury and 4600 tonnes of tin are discharged per year into the sea without any dilution.

The industrial wastes loaded with toxic substances such as acids, alkalies, pesticides, oils, varnishes, plastics, petro­chemicals, rubber, paints, and wastes of paper, soap, sugar, distillery, mine drainage, tannery, cyanides and radioactive substances pollute heavily causing fish killing in different coasts of different nations.

One of the commonest pollutants of the sea is raw or treated sewage. Over burden of these sewage cause prolific breeding of minute plants near the sea surface preventing the sunlight from reaching deep in the sea. As a result photosynthesis is either reduced or stopped in deep water plants and plants starts taking is O 2 and giving out CO 2 .

Thus using up more oxygen they die in large amount and decomposed by bacteria, causing further decrease in oxygen level. As a result of this decrease in O 2 level, fish and other animals start to die. This complete phenomenon is known as “eutrophication” .

The pollution due to nitrogen, mainly from agricultural run-off and wastewater has almost tripled the occurrence of low oxygen dead zones in past 30 years.

Another major source for sea pollution is agricultural waste.

Many fertilizers like DDT tends to get more and more concentrated as taken by higher consumers of a food chain e.g., fishes, growing in sea water with 0.1 part of DDT per billions part of water will have about 57 mg. of DDT per kg of body weight in higher animals. Other pesticides such as aldrin, endrin and dieldrin are even more dangerous and not biodegradable like DDT.

DDT level increase to 800 mg/kg. for large fishes which feed on these fish. When such small fish migrate from one sea to other also affect there aquatic life where no farmers to make use of DDT.

Like fertilizers and pesticides other chemicals used for various purposes such as in fire extinguishers, coolants in refrigerator A.C. and in paints cause chemical pollution of sea. Like DDT their proportion increase we go up in the food chain.

In recent years the use of trisodium nitrilotriacletate (NTA) to make water soft and alkaline, in place of sodium tripolyphosphate, is increased. NTA is biodegradable but forms complexes with metals like Hg, Pb, Cd and As which are poisonous.

Chlorinated and hydrogenated hydrocarbons used for fire extinguishers, propellants and as solvents and PCB (poly chlorinated biphenyls) used in electrical insulation, coolant, paints and lacquers leaks about 25% into environment during transportation and application out of this 1/10th finds way in sea.

Essay # 2. Causes of Marine Pollution:

(i) Oil Pollution:

The most important pollution of sea is oil. Hence we will discuss it here in details. Oil pollution of the sea normally attracts the greatest attention because of its visibility. There are several sources though which the oil can reach to the sea. Every year, approximately 3.5 million metric tons of the oil is released into the world’s oceans.

Sources of Oil Pollution :

Sources of oil input to the marine environment are often divided into natural, sea-based and land-based sources with four main categories of pollutants discharges through natural seeps, discharges during the extraction of oil, discharges during the transportation of oil, and discharges during the consumption of oil (including both sea-based and land-based sources).

These sources result in an estimated average of 706 million gallons of oil pollution entering our oceans each year. Of this, less than 10% is from natural seepage of oil from the ocean floor and eroding of sedimentary rock. The remaining 644 million gallons comes from human activities.

Offshore drilling, as a result of accidental spills and other operations, accounts for just over 2%. Large tanker spills, account for just over 5%. Air pollution from cars and industry accounts for just over 13% of the total, as the hundreds of tons of hydrocarbons land in our oceans from particle fallout aided by the rain, which washes the particles from the air.

Almost 4 times the amount of oil which comes from the large tanker spills, 19%, is regularly released into the ocean from routine maintenance, which includes boat bilge discharge as well as other ship operations.

By far, the greatest cause of oil in our oceans comes from drains and urban street runoff. Much of this is from improper disposal of engine oil. An average oil change uses 5 quarts of oil, which alone can contaminate millions of gallons of fresh water.

Crude oil from tanker accidents and offshore drilling is most likely to cause problems. Most people have seen the images of oil-coated animals and the large oil slicks surrounding the tankers after an accident.

The oil will spread over large areas often continuing to cause harm for many years. When quantities of surface oil are sufficient to coat animal fur and feathers, the animals cannot stay warm and will ingest the toxic oil while attempting to clean themselves.

Many of these oiled animals die as a result of ingesting these toxins. Many marine animals that do not die quickly as a result of the oil spill may develop liver disease and reproductive and growth problems because of ingestion.

Even very small quantities of oil will spread, floating on the surface of the water covering vast areas of water. These thin sheets can kill marine larvae, which in turn will reduce the number of marine animals.

(ii) Industrial Wastes:

Thousands of other pollutants also end up in the ocean. More than 2.8 billion gallons of industrial wastewater per day are discharged directly into ocean waters, excluding electric utilities and offshore oil and gas effluents. Heavy metals released from industry, such as mercury and lead, are often found in marine life, including many of those often consumed by humans.

The longer- lived, larger fish such as king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish and shark often contain harmful levels of the pollutant mercury, which can harm the developing brain and nervous system of children and fetuses. The chemical contaminants like pesticides, pharmaceutical agents, and biological contaminants like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa also found their way to sea.

Dioxins from the pulp and paper bleaching process can cause genetic chromosomal degradation in marine animals and may even cause cancer in humans.

PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), which usually comes from older electrical equipment, typically causes reproduction problems in most marine organisms. Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are another source of marine toxic pollution and typically come from oil pollution and burning wood and coal.

Ship industry has caused a great deal of damage to sensitive marine environments. A typical 3000 ship passenger can produce 255,000 gallons of wastewater and 30,000 gallons of sewage every day. All of this waste is normally discharged directly into the ocean.

This waste can contain bacteria, pathogens, medical waste, oils, detergents, cleaners, heavy metals, harmful nutrients (nitrogen amongst others) and other substances. These substances can be brought back to coastal areas as well as cause serious damage to the aquatic life in the sea, including posing a risk for contaminating seafood.

Nitrogen compounds can also contribute to environmentally hazardous algae blooms. Typically 75—85% of the solid waste from a ship is incinerated at sea adding to sea pollution as the toxins and ash settles back into the ocean.

Once in 1985 at Haji port of Bombay, about 80,000 fishes are were found dead due to industrial effluents containing cyanide irons and mercury. Due to mercury-poisoned fishes, about 20,000 people in Japan fell sick and many died in 1978. The disease was given the name Minamata on the name of the city of Japan.

Similar diseases due to metallic poisoning have already been reported by France, Belgium, England, Holland, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ceylon. The compounds of mercury are highly toxic. In aquatic environment mercury gets converted into methyl mercury which accumulates in fish cells and through them in human beings.

Industrial effluents often contain metallic compounds. For example, Halifax, a small city in eastern Canada, discharged into its harbor during the 1990s about thirty-three tons of zinc and thirty-one tons of lead per year, with lesser amounts of copper and other metals.

These metals are held in the sediment in a relatively inert from, but if stirred up into the water column, they become oxygenated and toxic. Tin is another common pollutant in harbors. It occurs as tributyltin (TBT), which is used as component of antifouling paints on the undersides of ships.

When taken up by shellfish, it accumulates in their tissues and has proved toxic to the shellfish and to organisms that consume them. The United States began to phase out TBT in 1988, and it will be banned internationally in 2008.

Industry also produces organic compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and various pesticides. These accumulate in the fatty tissue of plants and animals low in the food chain, and as they pass through the food web to larger and long-lived animals, there is an increase in concentration of the substances in their fat, a process known as bioaccumulation.

The St. Lawrence River, which drains the Great lakes, has accumulated large amounts of organochlorines, which have compiled in the tissues of Beluga whales. Many animals have tumors and disease. There is mounting evidence that chronic exposure to contaminants causes suppression of the immune responses of marine mammals. Similar problems have occurred with seals in the Baltic Sea.

Almost all rivers of the world are highly polluted and they carry the domestic sewage and mixture of industrial effluents into the sea without any treatment.

(iii) Agricultural Wastes :

Another serious type of marine pollution is nutrient pollution. This pollution is caused primarily from agricultural runoff that contains fertilizers and growth stimulants as well as from airborne nitrogen compounds that comes from automobile exhaust, industrial pollution and ammonia from manure. These cause eutrophic (over nutrient) conditions in coastal areas.

The main cause of eutrophication is excess nitrogen run-off from farm fertilizers, sewage and industrial pollutants. It reduces water clarity and depletes oxygen.

Reduced water clarity can starve sea grasses and algae that live in corals due to lack of light, which results in reducing their growth or killing them. While wind and waves aerate surface waters, the pycnocline layer acts as a barrier to oxygen exchange in bottom waters.

In major rivers, excess nutrients can be added as a result of fertilizer runoff, sewage, animal feed-runoff, or air pollution. The phytoplankton consumes these nutrients and oxygen which, in turn, causes a decrease in the amount of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus in the water body. As the nutrients become depleted, the algae can no longer survive creating red tids.

The dead phytoplankton sinks to the bottom of the water column where they are consumed by decomposers. Since these decomposers break down the algae using dissolved oxygen. Resulting low oxygen levels can be detrimental to fish health; if dissolved oxygen drops to below 2 mg/1, mass fish kills can result.

This is known as hypoxia. The areas in which hypoxia has occurred are known as Dead Zones. Dead zones have been a factor in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay on the U.S. east coast, and are now spreading to other bodies of water, including the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Adriatic Sea, Gulf of Thailand and Yellow Sea. There are now nearly 150 dead zones around the globe with some extending 27,000 square miles.

(iv) Marine Garbage :

Marine garbage disposal is another major form of ocean pollution. The world’s oceans are a virtual dumping ground for trash. Sometimes the garbage includes fishing nets, plastics and household garbage.

Garbage in the oceans is a serious issue as fish entangle themselves in fishing nets and animals sometimes eat trash products and die. There are numerous examples of dolphins, sharks and whales entangling themselves in fishing nets and dying from oxygen starvation.

Marine garbage can often enter into animal gut; plastic pop tab rings accidentally strangle animals and so forth. Controlling this form of pollution is important to maintain a healthy ocean ecosystem.

Even simple plastic bags can have large pollutive impacts within the ocean. In one case, a deceased sperm whale was found to have a plastic balloon blocking its digestive system. The whale died from inability to process its food and died of starvation. Plastics can also have negative impacts to boats if they accidentally plug water intake lines.

(v) Sewage Disposal in Ocean :

Sewage is yet another major source of marine pollution. Typically, the problem with sewage is that it causes massive nutrient loading in the ocean ecosystem. Nutrient loading triggers algal blooms in the water leading to the loss of dissolved oxygen. After the depletion of oxygen levels, many organisms in the ocean die from being unable to breathe properly.

The waste water release due to washing our clothes, faces, dishes and cattle, is ultimately headed to the sea. This includes everything from our homes (toilets, washing machines, bathtubs, dishwashers and so forth), industrial effluents and even chemicals such as paints and fertilizers that we dispose of down the drains.

(vi) Marine Debris :

Marine beaches serve as natural traps for marine debris. Globally, the most common materials are plastics, followed by glass and metal. The chief dangers to marine life result from the ingestion of these fragments, which may block the gut, and from entangling, which may cause suffocation or prevent locomotion and feeding.

In a survey of U.S. beaches close to urban centers, cigarette butts were the most abundant debris, followed by packing items (boxes, bags, caps, and lids), medical waste, and sewage. A high proportion of this material reached the sea by way of sewers. Even street litter can be washed into surface drains and then to the sea.

The dumping of sewage and waste by ships is another source. Public revulsion at the state U.S. beaches was a key factor in the enactment of stronger environmental protection laws, like the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988 that prohibited the dumping of sewage into the ocean. On sites more remote from cities, pieces of rope and netting are the most common types of marine debris.

Essay # 3. Effects of Marine Pollution :

Apart from causing eutrophication a large amount of organic wastes can also result in the development of ‘red tides’ . These are phytoplankton blooms of such intensity that the whole area is discoloured. Many important, commercially important marine species are also killed due to clogging of gills or other structures.

When liquid oil is spilled on the sea, it spreads over the surface of the water to form a thin film called and oil slick. The rate of spreading and the thickness of the film depend on the sea temperature, winds, currents, and the nature of the oil.

Oil slicks damage marine life to a large extent. Salt marshes and mangrove swamps are likely to trap oil and the plants, which from the basis of these ecosystems, thus suffer. For salt-marsh plants, oil slicks can affect the flowering, fruiting and germination.

If liquid oil contaminates a bird’s plumage, its water-repellent properties are lost. Water then penetrates the plumage and displaces the air trapped between the feathers and the skin. This air layer is necessary as it provides buoyancy and thermal insulation.

With this, the plumage becomes waterlogged and the birds may sink and drown. Even if this does not happen, the loss of thermal insulation results in exhaustion of food reserves in an attempt to maintain body temperature, often followed by death.

Drill cuttings dumped on the seabed create anoxic conditions and result in the production of toxic sulphides in the bottom sediment thus eliminating the benthos fauna.

Fish and shellfish production facilities can also be affected by oil slicks. However, the most important commercial damage can come from ‘tainting’ which imparts an unpleasant flavor to fish and seafood and is detectable even at extremely low levels of contamination. This reduces the market value of seafood.

Some other Effects of Marine Pollution are:

(i) Decomposition of organic matter causes a drop in dissolved oxygen, particularly in calm weather and sheltered bays. This can cause the death of marine plants and animals, and may lead to change in biodiversity.

(ii) Effluent, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, results in ‘eutrophication’ (over fertilization), which may cause algal blooms. These blooms can discolour the water, clog fish gills, or even be toxic, e.g., red tides. Microbial breakdown of dead algae can cause oxygen deficiencies.

(iii) Pathogenic microorganisms cause gastric and ear-nose-throat infections, hepatitis, and even cholera and typhoid. Filter feeding animals (e.g. mussels, clams, oysters) concentrate pathogens in their gut, so eating shellfish from polluted waters is a health risk.

(iv) Effects from industrial discharges in South Africa are generally limited to the area next to be discharge (the mixing zone). Water quality guidelines specify maximum levels of pollutants allowed in the receiving water.

(v) Oil spills prevent respiration in marine plants and animals.

(vi) In seabirds and mammals it can cause a breakdown in their thermal insulation.

(vii) Pesticides, such as DDT, and other persistent chemicals e.g., PCBs, accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals. These chemicals can cause reproductive failure in marine mammals and birds.

(viii) Ships often paint their hulls with anti-fouling substances, e.g., tributyl-tin or TBT, which prevents growth of marine organisms. These substances leach into water and, in high traffic areas such as harbors and marinas, can affect animal life.

(ix) Plastics kill many marine animals. Turtles, for example, often swallow floating plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish. Animals are often strangled when they become entangled with plastic debris.

Essay # 4. Policies to Protect the Marine Environment :

With the growing scope for national action, the need for regional action has also increased. Regional co-operation can be very cost effective in areas such as monitoring tanker traffic tracking down oil slicks, reinforcing inspection of ships, and providing mutual assistance in the case of emergencies.

Europe took a lead in this respect with the 1969 Bonn Agreement for the North Sea, the 1974 Agreements on the Baltic and on the North West Atlantic, and the 1976 Agreement on the Mediterranean Sea. More recently, it extended this lead with the revision of the Bonn agreement and the adoption of the Pairs Memorandum on Port State Control.

Action would be strengthened, however, if the authorities of a port state were in an effective position to initiate proceedings against tankers that discharge oil pollution into the economic zone of the port state or even into the economic zone of another state.

This is recognized in the new law of the Sea Convention. Regional co-operation could lead to agreements under which authorities in the states party to it would agree to assist each other in prosecuting tankers which violate international pollution prevention laws in their economic pollution prevention laws in their economic zones.

In effect, this would introduce the principle of non-discrimination, long advocated by OECD, into the field of marine pollution with violations of the law anywhere in the area being subject to prosecution in all ports of the area. It would greatly increase the effectiveness of measures taken by coastal states against ships that deliberately release oil at sea.

While the scope of national action and potential for regional action has increased, action at the international level remains vital. As oil is transported on a world-wide basis, most coastal states cannot reasonably impose measures on tankers visiting their harbors unless other states agree to do the same.

Moreover, oil transportation is to a large extent controlled by multinational corporations, and they can operate in various ways that make it difficult to pinpoint their liability, as the French authorities discovered with the amoco Cadiz.

Concerted international action started in 1954 with the “Convention of the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil.” and this was followed by an impressive series of conventions negotiated mostly within the framework of the IMO.

International action has been successful because these conventions were ratified ultimately by most of the major shipping nations-although there are a few outstanding exceptions such as Greece, Panama, and the United States.

It is a slow process, however, it took 10 years for the 1973 Convention on the Prevention of Pollution of the sea to enter into force and when it did only two of its parts came into force and they affected only 68 percent of the gross tonnage of the world fleet.

Nevertheless, this Convention is very significant, because it deals with concrete techniques and measures to reduce oil releases to the sea. In particular, it provides for the creation of reception facilities, the operation tankers with segregated ballast and crude oil washing and the use of oil separators.

With its entry into force in 1983, one can expect to see a significant reduction in oil pollution of the sea stemming from routine operations.

The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea is potentially the most important Convention for protection of the marine environment. It gives a special role to the coastal states in protecting their economic zones. It also gives enforcement powers to the port states and the coastal states in case of pollution incident and also in case vessels violate applicable international rules and standards relating to seaworthiness.

Between 1969 and 1984, ship-owners liability was reduced fourfold because of inflation. In 1969, the liability of the owner of a new 210,000 grt tanker was 71 percent of the value of the ship: in 1983 it was only 27 percent Increasing the liability of ship-owners for oil pollution at sea would no doubt, help to keep down accidental oil spills.

The principles in the Law of the Sea Convention will need to be developed and enforced at the national level, and states in regions such as Western Europe or the North Sea will have to examine and as far as possible, harmonize legal and practical measures to better protect their economic zones.

Tanker traffic in Western Europe is nearly always in national waters and most of it goes to Western European ports. A number of important states may not ratify this Convention, but all states will probably find it desirable to adopt environmental policies that reflect their new rights and duties in their economic zones.

(i) Floating Particulate Petroleum Residues :

A geographical plot of the location at which samples of floating particulate petroleum residues were collected clearly reflects the contribution to MAPMOPP from national and regional programs of marine pollution monitoring.

These programs provided detailed data for the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, both coasts of North America and the seas around Japan. In addition, data were collected along several transects of the North Atlantic and in the mid-Pacific. On the other hand, very few samples were collected south of the equator.

(ii) Seas Around Japan and Southeast Asia :

The most detailed study of dissolved dispersed petroleum residues during MAPMOPP was carried out in the seas around Japan.

As was the case with the Mediterranean data, two sub-populations were present, and the general level of contamination as indicated by the higher one was 0.19p.g/. This is remarkably low for an area through which there is a very large volume of tanker and ship traffic and where the data for oil slicks and floating tar indicated that high levels of pollution were present.

The highest levels of contamination in this region were in the waters east of Tokyo and Yokohama and the Sea of Japan, Concentration in the South China Sea and in the Strait of Malacca were 0.17 and O.I3jag/l, respectively. The latter, in particular, as a surprisingly low level in view of the massive amounts of oil that are transported through this very narrow passage.

(iii) Indian Ocean :

Data for dissolved dispersed petroleum residues in the India Ocean were clustered around the coastline of India and along a single transect between the Strait of Malacca and South Africa. This set of data contained very few values below 10 ng/l. While some values exceeded 300 µg/l (GM = 8.9 µg/l).

This suggests either that this region was much more highly polluted than any other area of the world ocean or that the data are suspect. Nevertheless, there was a tremendous difference between the concentration of dissolved/dispersed petroleum residues along the west coast (GM = 86.4 µg/l) and those along the east coast (GM = 0.7 µg/l) of India.

This, presumably, is a consequence of the tanker lane that passes along the west coast of India and across the Bay of Bengal en route to the Strait of Malacca and of the monsoonal circulation of surface water in this area.

(iv) North Sea:

MAPMOPP data for the North Sea were collected at a group of stations in the North Sea oil fields and along lines of stations extending from Norway to the Shetland Islands and across the Skagerrak to Denmark. These data were unique in that 81 of the 90 values were reported as zero and the remaining 9 were reported as either 0.1 or 0.5 (J.g/1. consequently).

A rigorous statistical analysis was not possible, although the data suggest that the general level of contamination in the North Sea is remarkably low for a semienclosed sea which is not only bordered by the most highly populated and industrialized countries of northern Europe but is also an area containing numerous offshore oil drilling platforms.

(v) Baffin Bay :

Most of the samples collected from Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound contained dissolved/dispersed petroleum residues at concentrations less than 0.1 µg/l and none exceeded 1 µg/l.

Although this value was biased by many of the samples having been collected along the east coast of Baffin Island in areas where natural seepage of petroleum is known to occur the impact of this seepage on the water column is localized and has little effect on the levels of contamination in the region as a whole.

Furthermore, the surrounding land masses are only very sparsely inhabited, there is very little shipping and the sea is covered with ice during much of the year. Consequently, the major input of fluorescing non-polar organic compounds to this region is atmospheric fallout of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons produced from high temperature combustion of petroleum and other organic materials.

Therefore, Baffin Bay is one of the least polluted regions of the northern hemisphere, and the background level of dissolved/dispersed petroleum residues there can be taken as a baseline against which the levels of contamination in other areas of the world ocean can be compared.

(vi) North American East Coast :

The MAPMOPP data for the east coast of North America indicated that the general level of contamination in this area was 0.09 µg/l. It is noteworthy that the level of contamination in this area of concentrated fishing and active shipping should be the same as that observed in Baffin Bay.

(vii) Global Assessment :

MAPMOPP data for dissolved/dispersed petroleum residues were highly regional in character and so sparse over such enormous expanses of the world ocean that it is not possible to obtain a complete assessment of the levels of these substances on a global scale. Nevertheless, the data suggest some general trends.

Analysis of the data for the eastern hemisphere by 20° × 20° squares of latitude and longitude not only pointed out the paucity of the data but indicated an extensive area in the southwest Pacific where the level of contamination by dissolved/dispersed petroleum residues was around 0.1 µg/l, while somewhat higher concentrations were present in the waters adjacent to Japan.

Concentrations seemed to be remarkably low around Japan considering the amount of oil consumed in that country and were only slightly higher in the Strait of Malacca where tanker and other ship traffic converges while passing into the Pacific from the Indian Ocean.

Concentrations in the northern part of Indian Ocean were very much higher and reached 0.7 µg/l in the Bay of Bengal and along the east coast of India. The highest concentrations of all were found along the west coast of India where the geometric mean as 86.4 µg/l. Such high concentrations suggest that the water contained dispersed particles or droplets of oil from tankers that passed through the area.

Essay # 5. Control of Marine Pollution :

The control of marine pollution is really a difficult task, since it involves national as well as international issues.

Several methods are used to deal with accidental discharge of oil, but as with all pollutants, the only effective measure for controlling contamination by oil of the aquatic environment is the prevention of avoidable spills and releases. Bioremediation is considered a useful tool in which macro organisms are used to degrade the oil that has spread over the large surface. 

Cleaning oil from surface waters and contaminates beaches is a time- consuming and labor-intensive process. The natural process of emulsification of oil in the water can be accelerated through the use of chemical dispersants, which can be sprayed on the oil.

A variety of slick-tickers in which a continuous belt of absorbent to extract the oil have been designed. Rocks, barbor walls can be cleaned with high-pressure steam or dispersants after which the surface must be hosed down.

One way of reducing the pollution load on marine waters is through the introduction of sewage treatment plants. This will reduce the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the final product before it is discharged to the receiving waters. Various stages of treatment such as primary, secondary or advanced can be used, depending on the quality of the effluent that is required to be treated.

(i) Primary Treatment:

These treatment plants use physical processes such as screening and sedimentation to remove pollutants that will settle, float or are too large to pass through simple screening devices. This includes stones, sticks, rags or any such material that can clog up pipes.

A screen consists of parallel bars spaced 2-7 cm apart followed by a wire mesh with smaller openings is used to separate these kind of pollutants. The polluted material collected on the screens is used in a device called a comminuter, which grinds the coarse material into small pieces.

After screening the wastewater passes into a grit chamber. The detention time is chosen to be long enough to allow lighter, organic material to settle. From the grit chamber the sewage passes into a primary setting tank (also called as sedimentation tank), where the flow speed is reduced sufficiently to allow most of the suspended solids to settle out by gravity.

If the waste is to undergo only primary treatment it is then chlorinated to destroy bacteria and control odors after which the effluent is released. Primary treatment normally removes about 35% of the BOD and 60% of the suspended solids.

(ii) Secondary Treatment:

There are three commonly used approaches:

Trickling filters, activated sludge process, and oxidation ponds. Secondary treatment can remove at least 85% of the BOD. A trickling filter consists of a rotating distribution arm that sprays liquid wastewater over a circular bed of ‘fist size’ rocks or other coarse materials. The spaces between the rocks allow air to circulate easily so that aerobic conditions can be maintained.

The individual rocks in the bed are covered with a layer of slime, which consists of bacteria, fungi, algae, etc., which degrade the waste trickling through the bed. This slime periodically slides off individual rocks and is collected at the bottom of the filter along with the treated wastewater and is then passed on to the secondary setting tank where it is removed.

In the activated sludge process, the sewage is pumped into a large tank and mixed for several hours with bacteria-rich sludge and air bubbles to facilitate degradation by microorganisms. The water then goes into a sedimentation tank where most of the microorganisms settle out as sludge.

This sludge is then broken down in an anaerobic digester where methane-forming bacteria slowly convert the organic matter into carbon dioxide, methane, and other stable end products. The gas produced in the digester is 60% methane, which is valuable fuel and can be put to many uses within the treatment plant itself.

The digested sludge, which is still liquid, is normally pumped out onto sludge drying beds where evaporation and seepage remove the water. This dried sludge is potentially a good source of manure. Activated sludge tanks use less land area than trickling filters with equivalent performance.

They are also less expensive to construct than trickling filters and have fewer problems with flies and odor and can also achieve higher rates of BOD removal. Thus, although the operating costs are a little higher due to the expenses incurred on energy for running pumps and blowers, they are preferred over trickling filters.

Oxidation ponds are large shallow ponds approximately 1-2 m deep, where raw or partially-treated sewage is decomposed by microorganisms. They are easy to build and manage, accommodate large fluctuations in flow, and can provide treatment at a much lower cost. However, they require a large amount of land and hence can only be used where land is not a limitation.

(iii) Advanced Sewage Treatment:

This involves a series of chemical and physical processes that removes specific pollutants left in the water after primary and secondary treatment.

Sewage treatment plant effluents contain nitrates and phosphates in large amounts. These contribute to eutrophication. Thus, advanced treatment plants are designed to specifically remove these contaminants. These plants are very expensive to build and operate and so are rarely used.

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Essay on Marine Pollution | Causes, Effects, and Solution

Welcome to the finest article that talks about the essay on marine pollution.

Marine Pollution refers to the introduction of harmful materials into the sea which has an adverse effect on the environment.

Such pollutants include pesticides, fertilizer, organochlorine, oils, and a variety of other waste products.

The rise in marine pollutants leading to a very unfavorable condition of living which is responsible for the extinction of marine mammals and fishes.

Marine pollution affects humans too, especially the peoples who live in the coastal areas.

Page Contents

Causes of Marine Pollution

essay on marine pollution

There are not a few causes of marine pollution but its number exceeds over all the limits. While it is pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial wastes, agriculture wastes, sewage, and many more.

These all are highly responsible for marine pollution or in its rise. Below are the major causes of marine pollution that everyone should know.

1. Industrial Wastes

One of the commonest and major causes of marine pollution is industrial waste. Every day, a new industry establishes in the world and some of them further lead to form marine poll.

As of reports, over 70,000 tons of zinc, 17000 tons of copper, 12000 tons of lead, and 8000 tons of arsenic are discharged every year into the ocean.

Despite these, most industrial substances are toxic such as plastics, oils, acids, alkalies, etc.

And when they released these toxic substances into the oceans or seas, it directly affects the aquatic animals along with the environment.

2. Agriculture Wastes

The second and very mutual cause of marine pollution is agricultural practices.

In this modern world, farmers like to do easy works and therefore they use chemical fertilizers for the instant growth of their crops.

Although, they aren’t aware of the fact how it harms the environment. The used chemicals were later carried by the rains to the ocean and it increases marine pollution.

In India, over 55,000 tons of pesticides are used annually and 25% of them were carried to the oceans.

3. Municipal Waste

The next very common cause is municipal wastage . Every house has a kitchen and every kitchen has numerous products including environment friendly or opposite.

Such products are carried out into the ocean by some private waste municipal corporations. They use to collect the wastes and thereafter they dumped into the oceans.

Especially, the houses or hotels located near the coastal areas directly threw out the wastes into the oceans.

4. Sewage Treatment

Earlier we talked about the household wastes taken by the waste municipal parties. But in the same way, those products are carried out into the oceans by sewage.

Still, there is a number of cities which has not to have any proper sewage treatment. Further, the sewage transfers the wastes to rivers and thereafter to the oceans or seas.

5. Volcanic Eruption

The very dangerous natural cause of marine pollution is volcanic eruption. It carried out a huge amount of harmful chemicals into the water bodies.

It severely affects the water quality and damages aquatic living on a very large scale. Although, it is natural and can’t be stopped so peoples mostly like to ignore it.

Above are only the major causes of marine pollution. Apart from these, there are so many causes like oil leakage, deep-sea mining, tanker accident, and petroleum washed off from roads.

These all cause the rise in marine pollution and these shouldn’t be ignored by humans.

Effects of Marine Pollution

Marine pollution affects the environment severely and brings an adverse change to the environment. The effects included Humans, Plants, and Animals, especially aquatic ones.

Thousands of Aquatic species are being extinct only because of marine pollution.

In coastal area, people are losing their habitat only because of marine pollution. Likely, there are many more effects of marine pollution which have been defined below.

Marine pollution harshly affects animal life on a large scale. Marine animals lost their habitat because of the rise in pollution in the coastal areas.

They are even unable to take clean water anymore. And mostly, aquatic animals are affected by marine pollution as it creates unfavorable conditions in the sea or ocean.

When there is oil on the surface of the ocean, it severely affects the migrating bird.

When the birds try to drink water during their journey, the oil gets trapped between their feature and they are unable to fly anymore.

This resulted in their death. Hence, Marine pollution is also the cause of birds’ and animals extinctions.

Peoples think that marine pollution hasn’t any effect on their life. Although it’s wrong thinking and the truth is that marine pollution is responsible for millions of people’s death.

This effect would mainly be seen in the coastal areas. Peoples there mostly depend on the oceans and seas.

Even they use to take fishes in their lunch because of its easy availability. And increasing marine pollution led to the end of aquatic animals and further it affects humans.

In fact, many marine and aquatic plants are very important in human life. And again, marine pollution destroys them and later it became a problem in human life.

Marine pollution plays a key role in the process of Eutrophication. Now, what is Eutrophication?

It is a phenomenon in which the surface of the water body gets covered by wastes which further interferes with the aquatic plant’s process of photosynthesis.

As result, the plants are unable to form oxygen and later the aquatic animals die. It majorly causes by the oil as it does not sink but floats on the water surface.

Preventions of Marine Pollution

After being aware of the causes and effects of marine pollution, everyone needs to know its prevention. Now there are small steps and also big steps for it.

Factory wastes can’t be stopped by individuals but the government can. Let you know below the major steps to prevent marine pollution.

The first and very important way to prevent marine pollution is to avoid non-biodegradable products. These are the products that never decomposed and thus end up polluting the environment.

Such products are plastic, metals, polythene, etc. Avoiding these products can prevent marine pollution on a vast level.

Never throw the waste in open land and instead try to dump them in the dustbins. Also, do not throw toxic wastes in the sewage.

In addition to this, try to recycle the products or learn their reuse methods.

Agriculture practices that include chemical fertilizers should be minimized. Instead, the farmers should use natural fertilizers as it is both human and environment-friendly.

One of the best ways to reduce marine pollution is through proper sewage treatment. This can be done in both chemical and physical ways which result in the removal of pollutants from the water.

This also helps to prevent eutrophication. So, above are some common and major ways to prevent marine pollution on a broad level.

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Essay Service Examples Environment Pollution

Argumentative Essay about Pollution

A herd of animals breaks the silence from the still ambiance within the mild plains. As they roam around the fresh green grass, blossoming with trees and flowers, their mind is escaped from the idea of being harmed by a toxic object that one would dispose of in our Earth, present day. Pollution affects every living thing on our planet, including our plants and wildlife. The selection of the big question “what makes the world safer?” was based on the idea that over the past several years, pollution has not been severely decreasing, as hoped for, and there should be an eagerness to change that. Throughout the extensive research, the question evolved as a result of my understanding that our government is not as focused on pollution laws and problems. The world would be safer if universal governments produced increasingly rigorous pollution regulations due to its several effects on Earth by investing in nonharmful sources, and if the government amended the Pollution Prevention laws which society must obey.

Worldwide governments should produce stricter pollution regulations as a result of the variety of effects it has on Earth. Legendary songwriter, Michael Jackson wrote, “The Earth Song”, a deep and meaningful song that brought attention to a serious topic for the world to consider, in 1982. In “The Earth Song,” Michael Jackson emphasizes the life-threatening effects pollution has on not only us but for our land and wildlife. While listening to “The Earth Song”, Jackson emphasized the repeating quote “What have we done to our Earth?” because, with the fate of harming our Earth in our own hands, we are the only source that is able to contribute to the downfall of pollution (Jackson). In addition, the following quote “What about everything, I didn’t do?”, suggests the idea that it takes every individual on Earth to help with the dramatic decrease of pollution, including every nation’s government (Jackson).

To limit pollution on Earth, the government should begin to invest in non-harmful sources that favor pollution. Amelia Womack is the official deputy of the Green Party, an organization that was created to help Earth remain a fresh and suitable home. On March 13, 2018, Womack tweeted about the possible alters the government should deeply consider in order to efficiently use their investments that will help decrease harm to our environment. In Womack’s tweet, she introduces air pollution, a form of contamination that is greatly caused by the use of cars and factories. To help with the decrease of air pollution, she stated, “We need to invest in railways, buses, cycling, and walking instead of more roads” (Womack). The following source suggests that the government could help reduce pollution by implementing the reduction of harmful travel that will continue to pollute our air. If more individuals ride the bus, provided by the government, to work, then the number of harmful substances in the air will be greatly decreased. Air pollution affects our wildlife, and individuals because of the thickening in the air that causes breathing problems in Earth’s life.

marine pollution essay

In order for society to obey pollution laws, the United States government should consider amending the Pollution Prevention laws and hold them to a much stricter standard. Regulations regarding the benefits of personal health in our environment are controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency in our country’s government. In the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pollution Prevention Act, the government tries to decrease pollution on our planet by making an effort to contribute money to decrease the use of resources that harm our environment, while trying to get society to undergo pollution only if it is necessary (“Pollution Law”). Some people may disagree, although, that the effort from the government in contributing billions of dollars to pollution prevention organizations is acceptable to influence the decrease. However, the laws passed by Congress in 1990 aren’t as harsh as they should be. The EPA states several pollution-related laws in the Pollution Prevention Act, including, “Disposal or other releases into the environment should be employed only as a last resort and should be conducted in an environmentally safe manner” (“ Pollution Law”). The preceding quote, implementing that one could dispose of their waste if necessary still encourages society to be allowed to dispose of waste in our environment.

The EPA should improve its laws by stating that throwing trash into our environment will not be condoned regardless of the situation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s role in controlling the fate of laws regarding pollution in the country is important to encouraging society to decrease the amount of waste in our environment.

Earth is just one planet made up of billions of individuals. When one decides to dispose of waste on Earth, they don’t consider the great effects that their one contribution to pollution has on our wildlife and planet. Without pollution, animals would be safe in their habitat, and our land would be beautiful and absent of harmful effects on our air.

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marine pollution essay

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U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Ocean pollution and marine debris

Each year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean.

Sea to Sky: Education resource database 

Keep exploring!  Find even more resources on ocean pollution and marine debris  in our searchable resource database.

Each year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean. Where does this pollution come from? Where does it go? Some of the debris ends up on our beaches, washed in with the waves and tides. Some debris sinks, some is eaten by marine animals that mistake it for food, and some accumulates in ocean gyres . Other forms of pollution that impact the health of the ocean come from sources like oil spills or from accumulation of many dispersed sources, such as fertilizer from our yards.

A beach that is almost completely covered in trash and debris.

Litter such as plastic detergent bottles, crates, buoys, combs, and water bottles blanket Kanapou Bay, on the Island of Kaho’olawe in Hawaii. This region is a hot-spot for marine debris accumulation. (Image credit: NOAA)

Where does pollution come from?

The majority of pollutants that make their way into the ocean come from human activities along the coastlines and far inland. One of the biggest sources of pollution is nonpoint source pollution , which occurs as a result of runoff . Nonpoint source pollution can come from many sources, like septic tanks, vehicles, farms, livestock ranches, and timber harvest areas. Pollution that comes from a single source, like an oil or chemical spill, is known as point source pollution . Point source pollution events often have large impacts, but fortunately, they occur less often. Discharge from faulty or damaged factories or water treatment systems is also considered point source pollution.

Satellite image of Lake Erie on September 23, 2017. The bright green areas show the peak of last year's algal bloom – this year's bloom is predicted to be smaller.

Nutrients and algal blooms: Too much of a good thing?

Sometimes it is not the type of material, but its concentration that determines whether a substance is a pollutant. For example, the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are essential elements for plant growth. However, if they are too abundant in a body of water, they can stimulate an overgrowth of algae, triggering an event called an algal bloom . Harmful algal blooms (HABs) , also known as “ red tides ,” grow rapidly and produce toxic effects that can affect marine life and sometimes even humans. Excess nutrients entering a body of water, either through natural or human activities, can also result in hypoxia or dead zones . When large amounts of algae sink and decompose in the water, the decomposition process consumes oxygen and depletes the supply available to healthy marine life. Many of the marine species that live in these areas either die or, if they are mobile (such as fish), leave the area.

Using ecological forecasting , NOAA is able to predict changes in ecosystems in response to HABs and other environmental drivers. These forecasts provide information about how people, economies, and communities may be affected. For example, the Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring System developed by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science provides information to the public and local authorities to help decide whether beaches need to be closed temporarily to protect public health.

The Trash Shouldn’t Splash Toolkit provides signage that can be used inside restaurants to encourage visitors to use alternatives to single-use plastic. The sign reads, "Think of our seas and be single-use plastic free!"

Marine debris

Marine debris is a persistent pollution problem that reaches throughout the entire ocean and Great Lakes. Our ocean and waterways are polluted with a wide variety of marine debris, ranging from tiny microplastics , smaller than 5 mm, to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels. Worldwide, hundreds of marine species have been negatively impacted by marine debris, which can harm or kill an animal when it is ingested or they become entangled, and can threaten the habitats they depend on. Marine debris can also interfere with navigation safety and potentially pose a threat to human health.

All marine debris comes from people with a majority of it originating on land and entering the ocean and Great Lakes through littering, poor waste management practices, storm water discharge, and extreme natural events such as tsunamis and hurricanes. Some debris, such as derelict fishing gear , can also come from ocean-based sources. This lost or abandoned gear is a major problem because it can continue to capture and kill wildlife, damage sensitive habitats, and even compete with and damage active fishing gear.

Local, national, and international efforts are needed to address this environmental problem. The Save our Seas Act of 2018 amends and reauthorizes the Marine Debris Act to promote international action, authorize cleanup and response actions, and increase coordination among federal agencies on this topic.

Garbage patches: What and where are they?

Garbage patches are large areas of the ocean where trash, fishing gear, and other marine debris collects. The term “garbage patch” is a misleading nickname, making many believe that garbage patches are "islands of trash" that are visible from afar. These areas are actually made up of debris ranging in size, from microplastics to large bundles of derelict fishing gear.

These patches are formed by large, rotating ocean currents called gyres that pull debris into one location, often to the gyre’s center. There are five gyres in the ocean : one in the Indian Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean, and two in the Pacific Ocean. Garbage patches of varying sizes are located in each gyre. Due to winds and currents, garbage patches are constantly changing size and shape. The debris making up the garbage patches can be found from the surface of the ocean all the way to the ocean floor .

Five college students and a dog pose in and around a stream in American Samoa. Palm trees and mountains are in the background.

The impact of marine pollution on seafood

Heavy metals and other contaminants can accumulate in seafood, making it harmful for humans to consume. Microplastics can be ingested by fish and other species that filter their food out of the water. With more than one-third of the shellfish-growing waters of the United States adversely affected by coastal pollution, it’s important for NOAA and it’s partners to study the impacts of microplastics and harmful contaminants in seafood. There is ongoing research around the country focusing on the potential risk to wildlife and humans from debris exposure and ingestion. NOAA monitors seafood contamination and provides safety tips through the FishWatch program.

Marine debris washed up on a beach.


Whether humans live near the coasts or far inland, they are a part of the problem — and the solution — to ocean pollution. Through this collection of resources and information, students can be informed of the types of pollution harming our ocean, and learn about actions they can take to prevent further pollution no matter where they live. The NOAA Marine Debris Program provides many educational resources for educators, students, families, and adults to help better understand this global issue.

Marine Pollution Essay

marine pollution essay

Show More Marine pollution “Plastic never goes away, and its increasingly finding its way into our oceans and onto our beaches”(“Ocean Plastics Pollution”). Marine pollution is a hazard to humans and wildlife when consumed. Marine pollution is detrimental to our planet and its many diverse ecosystems filled with delicate wildlife. The pollution of our oceans occurs daily and is often overlooked or forgotten about when it is a major environmental issue. Marine pollution causes many species of marine life to become endangered and extinct. Marine pollution is a deadly and destructive issue. The cause of marine pollution is when trash, typically plastics, enters the ocean resulting in problems to arise. “As far as plastic entering the ocean, about 20% …show more content… This is how manmade garbage enters the ocean even if it is not intentional it still is an issue. Marine debris is a symptom of society's throw-away mindset and the approach to how people use natural resources. The tendency of humans to be irresponsible is causing troubles, humans risk losing major marine species due to the pollution occurring in the ocean. People continue to pollute the oceans every day without notice because of their careless and harmful lifestyles (Andrews). Most pollutants that enter the oceans are not intentionally dumped, and some doesn't even come from land causing the pollution to be hard to measure and stop. “About 80% of marine debris originates from sources on land and the other 20%, about 636,000 tons per year, comes from ocean vessels. Cruise ships represent 1% of marine, but produce 25% of ship-sourced waste; on average, a single cruise ship passenger produces 3.5 kg of waste per day”(Polsenberg). This is a reason why pollution is caused because people not only pollute from land but they do it while on boats and this makes it harder for the pollution to be stopped because not many know about the ship-sourced …show more content… It causes people to become sick and animals to become endangered and extinct. Marine pollution causes once healthy and thriving ecosystems to become death filled wastelands. It may not be recognized today but marine pollution could cause the demise of most life on Earth including Humans. Marine pollution is a killer of many and needs to be stopped and eradicated from the planet humans call

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Essay on marine pollution: sources, effects and control.

marine pollution essay


Essay on Marine Pollution: Sources, Effects and Control!

Marine pollution is defined as the introduction of substances to the marine environment directly or indirectly by man resulting in adverse effects such as hazardous to human health, obstruction of marine activities and lowering the quality of sea water.

Sources of Marine Pollution :

a. Municipal waste and sewage from residences and hotels in coastal towns are directly discharged into sea.

b. Pesticides and fertilizers from agriculture which are washed off by rain enter water courses and finally to sea. India is estimated to use 55,000 tons of pesticides annually and about 25 percent of it is carried to-ocean.

c. Petroleum and oil washed off from roads normally enter sewage system and finally into seas.

d. Ship accidents and accidental spillage at sea can therefore be very damaging to the marine environment.

e. Off shore oil exploration also pollute the sea water to a large extent,

f. Dry docking: All ships periodic dry docking servicing; cleaning the hulls etc. during this period when cargo compartments are emptied, residual oil goes into sea.

g. Pollution due to organic wastes: When O 2 concentration falls 1.5 mg/L, the rate of aerobic oxidants reduced and replaced by the anaerobic bacteria that can oxidize the organic molecules without the use of oxygen.

h. Pollution due to oil: Crude oil is transported by sea after a tanker has unloaded its cargo of oil; it has to take on sea water ballast for return journey. This ballast water is stored in cargo compartments that previously contained oil.

During unloading of cargo certain amount of oil remains clinging to the walls of container and this may amount to 800t in a 200,000t tankers. The ballast water thus contaminated with oil. When fresh crag of oil is to be loaded these compartments are clean with water which discharges the dirty ballast along with oil into sea.

i. Tanker accidents: In the natural process, a large no. of oil tanker accidents happens every year. Sometimes this can results in major disasters.

j. Volcanic eruptions in the sea.

k. Deep sea mining is a relatively new mineral retrieval process that takes place on the ocean floor. Ocean mining sites are usually done at about 1,400 – 3,700 meters below the ocean’s surface. The vents create sulfide deposits, which contain precious metals such as silver, gold, copper, manganese, cobalt, and zinc. These raise questions about environment damage to surrounding areas. Removal of parts of the sea floor will result in disturbances to the benthic layer, and habitat of benthic organisms. Beside from direct impact of mining the area, leakage, spills and corrosion would alter the mining area’s chemical makeup.

Effects of Marine Pollution :

a. Apart from causing Eutrophication, a large amount of organic wastes can also result in the development of ‘red tides’. These are phytoplankton blooms because of which the whole area is discolored.

b. Commercially important marine species are also killed due to clogging of gills and other structures.

c. When oil is spilled on the sea, it spreads over the surface of the water to form a thin film called as oil slick. This damages marine life to a large extent. Commercial damage to fish by tainting which gives unpleasant flavor to fish and sea food reduces market values of sea food and causes death of birds through its effect on feathers. Birds often clean their plumage by pruning and in the process consume oil which can lead to intestinal, renal and liver failure.

d. For salt marshy plants oil slick can affect the flowering, fruiting and germination.

e. Organic waste addition results in end products such as hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and methane which are toxic to many organisms. This process results in the formation of an anoxic zone which is low in its oxygen content; from which most life disappears except for anaerobic microorganisms and renders the water foul smelling.

f. The coral reefs are the productive ecosystems offer many benefits to people. These coral reefs are threatened by (a) the sediments from deforestation carried by the runoffs, (b) the agricultural and industrial chemicals reaching through river discharges. To mention an example. River Ganga is estimated to carry 1.5 billion tons of sediments due to deforestation and intensive farming in India, Bangladesh and Nepal through which it flows to Bay of Bengal.

g. Drill cuttings dumped on the seabed result in the production of toxic sulphides in the bottom sediment thus eliminating the benthic fauna.

Control Measures of Marine Pollution :

a. Introduction of sewage treatment plants to reduce BOD of final product before discharging into sea.

b. Cleaning oil from surface waters and contaminated beaches can be accelerated through the use of chemical dispersants which can be sprayed on the oil.

c. Load on top system reduce oil pollution cleaned with high pressures jets of water.

d. Crude oil washing: The clingage is removed by jets of crude oil while the cargo is being unloaded.

e. Skimming off the oil surface with a section device.

f. Spreading a high density powder over the oil spill, so that oil can I be sunk to the bottom.

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Essay on Marine Pollution : Causes, Effects & Solutions

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What is Marine pollution?

Marine pollution can be defined as the contamination of marine water, mainly big seas and oceans with pollutants and contaminants like industrial effluents, oil spills from huge vessels, chemical displacements, chemical spills, sewage etc.

Plastics, garbage, litter etc that we throw into our waste baskets ultimately end up in far off oceans, also contributing to marine pollution.

In general, pollution can be defined as any physical, chemical or biological agent that tends to contaminate the air, water and soil of an environment.

It has the ability to transform/toxicate the basic elemental components that degrade the natural balance of the ecosystem.

Pollution can be of various types, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, radioactive pollution etc. Aquatic pollution can be categorized into marine pollution and fresh water pollution.

Due to uncontrolled developmental activities, urbanization and various anthropogenic activities, there is dumping of hazardous waste directly or indirectly into marine waters.

Most of this dumping happens without our knowledge and thus directly or indirectly, we are responsible for the hordes of waste and dirt that set sail on far off ocean waters.

Sources of Marine pollution

We have for sure visited seas and oceans and admired nature and its beauty. The scenic waters, the boundless beauty of nature sure catches our attention when we visit a place tucked in the lap of nature.

Amidst all this, we even crib about the dirt that keeps sailing on ocean waters. Unknowingly, we ourselves are responsible for the throw of such dirt that is afloat on sea and ocean waters.

The garbage that we throw into collection points at home gets segregated at appropriate units and the wet wastes go into the dumping ground.

The rest of the dry waste heap is dumped at places in the outskirts of cities. With the forces of nature, they are gradually taken too far off, unknown places which ultimately land in sea and ocean waters.

This is what we find sailing on beaches, seas and oceans. If we are unable to see the dirt on waters, we can imagine how choking they must be to the marine life inside the sea water.

Let us remind ourselves that there is a world of life inside the marine waters, some of which we know and majority of which we don’t know.

The life under marine waters seems mysterious at the same time curious for the exploitative minds. We have been talking about how pollution causes disturbance to the ecology on land.

We have hardly thought about the creatures underwater.

If we dwell further into this topic, we would find that the life under ocean is very beautiful, at the same time threatened by man-made factors, killing and choking them to death.

Marine life was undisturbed till a certain time ago when oil spills became a normal thing, the spill of chemical wastes into big oceans was just another thing and there were no special attachments to it.

Hence we find the marine life disturbed by a whole lot of factors such as oil spills, chemical interferences, sewage contributions etc. These specific causes pollute the marine waters, thus causing huge damage to marine life.

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Effects of Marine pollution

Let us just imagine that there has been an oil spill from a huge vessel and by the time the authorities wake up to the spill, it has already spread far and wide.

Since oil cannot dissolve in water, the surface of the water is seen colored badly with the spread of oil. The marine life under the spilled area is highly under threat.

The natural composition and constituents of water has totally changed and there is hardly any way the natural balance of marine water can be restored.

Nature takes its time to restore the natural balance of the good waters, so a significant damage has thus set in.

If we were given a glass of water mixed with cooking oil to swallow, would we be able to do it, I wonder.

It’s just not possible because the penetration of oil particles into water molecules alters the constituent composition of water and makes it an altogether different mixture.

So, water mixed with oil becomes a varied mixture, not rendering its natural efficacy.

Just a drop of such water kept on our tongue gives us such a bad feeling.

So, we should be able to understand how difficult marine life under such unfit waters should be living with. In short, marine life, once toxicated with chemical elements loses its natural beauty and it takes many years to restore the natural life balance again.

Solutions for marine pollution

We cannot avoid huge oil spills, because most of these incidences occur after taking enough precautions while transporting oil in vessels from one region to another.

We should at least take preventive measures and work towards reducing pollution in areas that we can achieve less toxicity and less contamination.

Such measures may include proper waste management systems, recycling of waste water for purposes like gardening, washing cars, etc.

Instead of channeling all wastes ultimately towards the oceans, we must give a thought to the life under waters too.

If we bring in a supported approach, a scientifically incubated approach that will drift away the accumulation of wastes away from marine waters, we would be successful in providing a second life to aquatic and marine creatures.

As per article 51-A, it is the duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

The more we try to understand the functioning of such complex systems, the more we come to realize that these systems are systemic in nature and are interrelated and interdependent on each other’s components.

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Marine Pollution Essay

The ocean pollution.

I'm in the ocean every day, it’s my second home. Because of this, I am very sensitive to literary and other pollution that ends up in our oceans. I can't walk down the beach today without seeing a pile of trash. Because of this curiosity, I wanted to research what another type of litter fill our local ocean. Our ocean is filthy, Plastics and fibers make their way into the sea naturally every day. Apart from the rest of the trash, some of these plastics and fibers are microscopic, coining the term microfibers or microplastics. This problem is getting worse. Much like global warming in the past, this problem is not clearly obvious. As a society, we have made numerous efforts to begin to clean up our oceans and beaches, but our tiny particle problem still goes undetected, unevaluated, and unresolved for most of the world's population. So we will probably ask how are they getting there?

The Effects Of Ocean Pollution On The Marine Ecosystem

The most obvious pollutant comes in the form of garbage. Garbage is a visible source that we can see floating on the water’s surface. Among the garbage, plastic appears to be the most harmful to marine life. There is an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter scattered around every square kilometer of the ocean. An average of 6.4 million tons of marine litter reaches the oceans every year according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At this rate scientists predict a bleak future for the oceans which are a vital to our planet 's existence.

The Pollution Of The Oceans

The oceans face many types of pollution every day, every second. The ocean is our greatest ecosystem and out most valuable resource. A common misconception is that the rainforests are the lungs of the planet however, the majority of our oxygen is made via the algae in the sea. The oceans feeds, hydrates, and provides us with oxygen; ironically enough, despite its monetary value to mankind, it is what is treated the worst. For ages we have been dumping our trash, chemicals, and waste into the oceans with no fear or regret, almost an “out of sight- out of mind” mentality. People once and still assume that the oceans are so vast that all of the pollution is diluted and would be dispersed through out, going unnoticed. However, dilution is a myth and an idea that renders ocean dumping to be less impactful. Even so much of the man made pollution is becoming even more concentrated and have entered our natural food chain. However vast the waters of the ocean are, they are not meant to house all of these external factors. There are many alternatives to marine pollution including recycling, finding alternative trash dump sites, cutting down on harmful chemicals for agriculture, and most importantly having the ability to recognize when a problem is developing and counter act, immediately.

Marine Pollution: Causes and Solutions Essay

As the world develops and the human population grows there is more pollution being dumped into the oceans, causing major problems to marine life and ecosystems. Major causes of marine pollution involve non-point pollutants, marine garbage, toxic ocean pollutants and sewage disposal in oceans. From heavy metal poisoning including lead and mercury killing predators such as sharks and whales, to waste getting trapped in the digestive tracts of marine animals, this essay focuses on how human interference causes horrifying problems to the marine life, but also how to fix it. It will also explore the normal activities of people including farming and how this can cause an imbalance in an ecosystem. Everyday activities can cause massive nutrient

Persuasive Plastic Problems

In the article When the Mermaids Cry” The Great Plastic Tide by Claire Le Guern Lytle, she wrote “For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise. An estimated 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, and confirming and upward trend over the past years” This means that more and more trash is added to the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. Almost everything around us is made out of plastic, this is later misused and ending in the wrong place. The Center for Biological Diversity wrote “In the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. And every year, billions of pounds of plastic end up in the world’s oceans. Most ocean pollution starts out on land and is carried by wind and rain to the sea. Once in the water, there is a near-continuous accumulation of waste.” Our plastic is misplaced and it escalates from there. However, plastic pollution hurts us as well. “Trash in the water compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ocean;” wrote a non-profit group called Ocean Conservation. If our oceans are covered in trash, everyone that relies on the ocean is going to suffer. The effect is not just in our health, it also affects our economy. Ocean Conservation also

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Everything in this world we use comes from the ocean in some way. The air we breathe, the water we drink, even the products we use day to day, would not be possible without the ocean. That's why the issue of ocean pollution is so important and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. We depend on the ocean for so much in our life, without it we would surely become extinct. People seem to think that since the ocean is so large and vast, we can dump as much waste as we'd like into it and it will never have an effect on us. However, since we've been polluting the ocean as far back as Roman times, the evidence of ocean pollution becoming a major problem is all too clear.

The Effects Of Plastic On The Ocean

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Marine pollution is caused by the introduction (whether directly or indirectly) of substances or energy into the marine environment, which cause harm to living marine resources. Sources of marine pollution include: (1) direct discharge of effluents and solid wastes into the seas and oceans; (2) land runoff into the coastal zone, mainly from rivers; and (3) atmospheric fallout of pollutants transferred by the air mass onto the sea’s surface. Research has shown that two-thirds of the total input of contaminants into the marine environment is from landbased and atmospheric sources, constituting 44 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Ecological impacts of marine pollution include disturbances in the function of water biotic communities and habitats and changes to hydrology and geomorphologic systems. Impacts can manifest as changes in the abundance, diversity, and fitness of individuals, populations, and communities of living marine resources. Solid wastes, heavy metals, and chlorinated hydrocarbons can damage the respiratory, reproductive, and digestive systems of marine organisms. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous inputs from agriculture can cause algal blooms that disturb the balance and structure of water ecosystems. Sewage outflows can cause oxygen deficiency that can trigger the mass mortality of water organisms.

Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers

Pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture and urban gardens are designed to kill unwanted pests. The most common type of pesticides is insecticides. They can be highly toxic and frequently pollute the coastal and marine biota due to storm water runoff. Studies have shown that less than one percent of pesticides actually end up on their target species, leaving 99 percent to pollute and contaminate the environment.

Pesticides have many effects on the marine environment, including changes to reef communities and structure, increases in algae and sponges and damage to seagrass beds and other aquatic vegetation. Further, pesticides move through the food chain as they accumulate in the biota.

An example of the impacts that fertilizers can have on the environment comes from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which analyzed the impacts of growing sugarcane along the coast adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. To grow sugarcane in Australia, large amounts of inorganic fertilizer, particularly nitrogen, is required due to the abundance of nitrogen-poor soils along Queensland’s coast. Approximately 200 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare is applied to the cane to promote growth every year.

Only approximately 70 kilograms are taken up by the crop; the remaining 130 kilograms pollute the environment with a significant percentage reaching the marine waters of the Great Barrier Reef through stream flow runoff. During the flood events common to the monsoonal weather patterns of the Queensland coast, dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations in flood plumes range between 10 to 100 times ambient concentrations, along with high levels of particulate nitrogen. The impact of this pollution has been significant to the Great Barrier Reef including a major decline in the abundance and diversity of corals and fishes.

Sewage is a significant marine contaminant. For example, in New Jersey between 1986 and 1992, approximately 8 million tons of sewage sludge was discharged annually in water depths of 2,500 meters. Sewage outflow has significant effects, especially in developing nations. Risks to human health are great, with World Health Organization estimates showing that gastroenteritis and respiratory infections are caused every year by bathing in contaminated seawater. In 1993, the Pan American Health Organization indicated that only 10 percent of the sewage generated in Central American and Caribbean countries was properly treated. Infectious hepatitis A, a serious and debilitating disease of the liver, is a virus frequently transmitted by shellfish contaminated by sewage.

Chemical Contamination

Chemical contamination derives from the dumping of chemical wastes into the marine environment. Substances include chlorinated hydrocarbons, heavy metals, nutrients, oil hydrocarbons, surface-active substances, and artificial radio-nuclides. Ongoing bioaccumulation and biomagnification of trace elements such as mercury and lead has been found in marine mammals such as the bowhead whale ( Balaen a mysticetus ), beluga whale (D elphinapteru s leucas ), gray whale ( Eschrichtiu s robustus ), and seal. This has serious health implications for peoples such as the Inuit of Alaska and other Arctic areas, who rely upon marine resources as significant sources of protein.

Coastal and marine tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the global economy. Visitor numbers frequently exceed the carrying capacity of the environment-its water supplies, available space, and the ability of habitats to absorb visitor impacts and provide an enjoyable experience. Coastal erosion, pollution, habitat destruction, and social decay are common consequences. Tourist boats, curio collectors, reef walkers, snorkelers and scuba divers have damaged coral reefs in many tropical countries.

Shipping, ship groundings, and collisions are a major source of marine pollution. Contaminants include hazardous and noxious substances, hydrocarbons, ballast water discharge that spreads marine pests, and antifouling paints. An estimated 10,000 marine species are being transported in ships’ ballast water between bio-geographic regions at any given moment worldwide.

It is estimated that the global shipping industry discharges up to 5.5 million items of waste every day. The application of antifouling paints remains an ongoing problem. For example, in Korea, while the practice of applying antifouling paint containing organotin compounds to ship surfaces was halted beginning in 2003, and antifouling paint is supposed to be completely removed from surfaces by 2008, ships are still frequently dry-docked for repainting in shipyards. There, high pressure water and sand particles are used to remove impurities, such as attached marine organisms, salts and slime, and old paint from the ship’s surface. In this process, major contamination occurs from the particles of antifouling paint that are often discharged directly into the marine environment.

Marine Debris

Millions of tons of plastic and glass enter the oceans each year. Major sources of plastic are from fishing equipment, packaging materials, convenience items, and raw plastics. Wildlife is at particular risk from plastic, with over 100,000 birds, whales, seals, and turtles killed by plastic rubbish each year. Birds get tangled in plastic can holders and turtles ingest plastic bags, perhaps mistaking them for jellyfish. Recent entanglement studies estimate that in Australia, 1,478 seals die from entanglement in fishing nets each year; the entanglement rates for Australian sea lions were 1.3 percent in 2002 and for the New Zealand fur seal 0.9 percent. This issue is compounded by the long “shelf time” most marine debris has before biodegrading fully; plastic bags take up to 1,000 years, glass bottles one million years, and plastic bottles may last indefinitely.

Noise Pollution

In some areas, noise pollution at sea has doubled every decade for the past 60 years. Sources of ocean noise pollution include explosives, underwater construction activities, ship traffic, seismic survey activity, and oceanographic experimentation.

Noise proliferation is a significant threat to the survival of many marine mammals, and to other resources. Research shows that noise pollution is reducing marine faunas’ ability to find food, locate mates, avoid predators, and communicate with each other. This is particularly so with marine mammals who use sonar as a guidance mechanism.

Management Initiatives

Given the significant effect of marine pollution, there are a number of tools and treaties that attempt to mitigate its impact. The United Nations and others have established over 200 initiatives to manage and mitigate pollution and degradation of the marine environment at the global and regional levels including: (1) the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (1995); (2) the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Sources and Activities in the Caribbean; (3) the International Maritime Organizations Antifouling Treaty (2001); (4); the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (1972); (5) the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft (1972); (6) the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Landbased Sources (1974); and (7) the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic (1992).



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Essays on Marine Pollution

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Ocean Pollution to Marine Life essay

Each day, thousands of pounds of trash are dumped into our oceans. According to Scuba news, Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed each year. Some of the debris ends up on our beaches or floating in our oceans, and a lot of the debris ends up being eaten by marine animals, who mistake it for food.

Some may argue that pollution in our oceans is not life threatening, and will not affect our world, present day. Many also have a false impression that the earth has an abundance of clean water, so many seem to disregard this large problem our world is currently facing.

Oil is a pollutant that is extremely harmful to marine life, entering the ocean through land drainage and oil spills. According to Scuba News, this oil suffocates marine life and completely changes the local ecosystem of any areas it comes into contact with. While oil is very damaging, the biggest problem is undeniably plastic, with over 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris floating around in the ocean.

Plastic is damaging to wildlife in many ways. Animals can become trapped in plastic, and other debris found in our oceans can also be a choking hazard. With marine life mistaking the plastic for food, often times resulting in death.

Oceanic Pollution does not only affect marine life and their environment, it also affects mankind. The many chemicals that are found in the ocean can contaminate water supply or our food chain by affecting the marine life involved. Humans can be exposed to these dangerous chemicals by eating seafood, or traces of pollution can also be found in our water supply. If exposed to these chemicals for a long period of time, many health problems could occur.

There are many organizations such as the Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, and the Oceanic Preservation Society that are working to fight against oceanic pollution. These organizations advocate for the protection of marine life habitats, and for reducing the human impact on ocean ecosystems.

You may be wondering, how can we as individuals help our oceans?

Although pollution has already taken a large toll on our oceans, we can try our best to lessen pollution in the future. First, using reusable plastic products will greatly diminish the amount of plastic that pollutes the ocean.

We can also pick up the litter and trash on our beaches, or reduce the amount of energy that we use. As humans, we use tons of energy each day, and it is greatly affecting our environment. Small ways we can reduce our energy use includes turning off your lights, unplugging appliances when not in use, also, walking or cycling rather than driving.

These small changes that you can make to your life can greatly help our environment and lessen the pollution on earth.

Our oceans are such a critical part of the earth’s ecosystem, and we need to start treating them with respect and care.

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marine pollution essay

Marine Pollution Essay

Introduction It is no secret that many environmental issues impact the human race negatively. It is also no secret that humans are the primary cause of these issues. Time and time again, society has shown a blatant disregard for nature, instead pursuing monetary capital and status by exploiting the earth’s natural resources. These priorities are causing consequences of epic proportions, which those in charge ignore in favor of capital gain. One of the most pressing issues is marine pollution and its threat to human food security. Marine pollution occurs when harmful, or potentially harmful, effects result from the entry into the ocean of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural and residential waste, noise, or the spread of invasive organisms. Basically, it occurs when anything that can cause harm to the ocean and its inhabitants enters the water. Many societal factors contribute to marine pollution, including: climate change, nonpoint source pollution, solid waste, and industry and manufacturing. But how is marine pollution a threat to human food security? Because the oceans are such a large part of our world, they are naturally a large part of our economy. There are an immeasurable amount of companies and coastal communities that rely on the animals that the ocean supports. Coastal communities depend on what they can harvest from the ocean. Marine pollution holds the threat of starvation for these communities. Companies harvest and sell many types of fish, shellfish, and even seaweed, to assist in feeding the growing population of the world. Marine pollution threatens this resource that is essential to human food security. There are many anthropogenic threats to the oceans, which result in a number of consequences.... ... middle of paper ... ...neurological development, fatigue, insomnia, nerve damage, increased blood pressure, and reproductive problems. Seafood that has been affected by solid waste or chemical discharge is especially threatening to coastal populations because not only do they not have a choice but to consume the seafood because of economic standing, but they also do not have the means to medically treat anyone who has been affected by contaminated seafood. Conclusion In conclusion, marine pollution is a giant threat to not only marine organisms, but to the human race as well. Pollution can cause dead zones, a decline in fish catch, stunted reproduction and growth and altered breeding patterns, and a threat to coastal populations. Since the human race relies on the ocean for a large portion of its sustenance, it is imperative to mitigate any pollution that can threaten marine species.

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marine pollution essay

The Global Problem of Marine Noise Pollution

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Marine pollution has been arousing many predicaments worldwide, and there are numerous solutions to help solve this. Many federal laws have been made to help resolve this problem, but additional laws are needed. There are numerous ways for you to help minimize marine pollution. Fortunately, there are plentiful organizations working to support the decrease of the amount of marine pollution.

Many laws have been made to help resolve this problem. For example, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act has greatly supported the decrease of marine pollution. Also known as the Clean Water Act, this law has established the basic structure for managing pollutant discharges into the US waters. Not only this, but the law has made it illegal for any person to release any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters. On the other hand, this law has also recognized the severe problems presented by nonpoint source pollution. After these laws were made, it was proved that a decrease in marine pollution had occurred.


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Furthermore, another law that has provided support is the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. Also known as the Ocean Dumping Act of 1972, this law forbids dumping material into the ocean that may possibly degrade or endanger the marine environment, as well as human health. This law was created to reduce and essentially eliminate the effects of plastic pollution on the environment. So far, this law has provided help with reducing the amount of marine debris found in the ocean, but further help is greatly needed.

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Furthermore, the Porter Cologne Water Control Act has proved to be extremely helpful. This act requires plastic manufacturing, handling, and transportation facilities to implement minimum BMPs to control discharge, which ultimately controls the leakage of preproduction plastics. I believe that if this program was organized nationwide, our waterways amount of preproduction plastics could be significantly reduced.

In addition, there is also a need for generating less waste in the supply chain. For example, many products in China are shrink wrapped individually before they are shipped, then unwrapped before placed on shelves. Also, industries could possibly turn to plant-based plastics, though they frequently must be treated to decompose. As well as this, establishing nationwide limits on the amount of plastics allowed in watersheds can greatly reduce the flow of plastics and marine debris from land to sea.

There are numerous ways for you to help minimize marine pollution. By changing our own habits, we can gradually slow the flow of plastic pollution, which will ultimately reduce the pollution affecting the ocean. For example, you can start by recycling any plastic products. In addition to this, you can drink from reusable bottles to reduce the use of plastics. These small actions can save marine animals from being entangled, injured, and possibly killed by plastics found in the ocean. Furthermore, you can buy products with non-plastic packaging, as well as to support restaurants that offer biodegradable take-out containers and utensils. If more people take into consideration the health of marine life, then the outcome of these actions could be remarkable. Additionally, you can request paper straws with your drinks, instead of plastic. If you are willing to take a step forward with this, you can start by encouraging waste reduction in your community. Some examples of this may include organizing a beach or park cleanup. Beach cleanups have been proven to be beneficial to marine life, for they keep microplastics out of garbage patches. Overall, your individual help and work can help to gradually resolve the predicament of marine pollution in the long term.

Fortunately, there are plentiful organizations working to support the decrease of the amount of marine pollution. For example, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has proved itself to be greatly beneficial. Through a mussel watch program, this organization monitors contamination, as well as provides seafood safety tips through the Fishwatch Program. Essentially, this organization focuses on the conditions of the ocean, major waterways, and the atmosphere. As well as this, they work to manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. In addition to this, the NOAA also has a strong education program, from which reached more than 2.6 million youths and adults in 2018. This program helps to inspire millions of people with their mission. If it wasn’t for the organizations as dedicated like the NOAA, the current amount of marine pollution would be significantly worse. With the help of others and this organization, marine pollution can overall be decreased in the long term. Furthermore, another organization that has significantly helped the decrease of marine pollution is the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc.) The NRDC fights to prevent plastic pollution to help protect marine life. This organization has also worked to support strategies that will help reduce the amount of debris entering the ocean. For example, the NRDC has analyzed data from coastal communities in California, and discovered that they had spent a substantial amount of $428 million each year to clean up plastic trash and debris from their waterways. In addition to this, the NRDC has also found that recycling 75% of the nation’s waste could generate 1.1 million jobs by 2030. Altogether, organizations like these have came up with global solutions to decrease marine pollution, and their determination and accomplishments are significantly appreciated.

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    In conclusion, marine pollution is a giant threat to not only marine organisms, but to the human race as well. Pollution can cause dead zones, a decline in fish catch, stunted reproduction and growth and altered breeding patterns, and a threat to coastal populations.

  24. The Global Problem of Marine Noise Pollution

    Marine mammals fish and invertebrates rely on sound to communicate under the water to find food, mate and stay safe. Noise can cause behavioral changes and can be fatal. Until recently in the last decade, underwater poise was not considered a worldwide concern. Last 10 ears have been concerned about the effect of sound underwater.

  25. How to Solve the Problem of Marine Pollution?

    Marine pollution has been arousing many predicaments worldwide, and there are numerous solutions to help solve this. Many federal laws have been made to help resolve this problem, but additional laws are needed. There are numerous ways for you to help minimize marine pollution.