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Stakeholders ‘cry’ for collaborative efforts to keep coastlines, oceans safe

Different studies indicates how human beings who are supposedly care takers of our beautiful earth are destructing and polluting it like never before. Things like plastic litter, deforestation, poor air quality are now common.

Because of this, the world is losing its treasured animals and plants thousands of times faster than it has happened in the last 500 million years and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warns that within a century the earth will have lost 67 per cent of the currently endangered fauna and 99.9 per cent will be in serious danger of extinction.

As part of global family, Tanzania is also contributing to that environmental destruction and pollution. Current statistics shows that the country produces between 17 million and 23 million tonnes of waste annually. But, because of low recycling technology, less than 25 percent of waste produced gets recycled in the country.

Some of the wastes produced on mainland, find their way to coastlines and oceans, polluting these otherwise immaculate areas and later makes life difficult for both fish and humans. So, it is always refreshing when some of our own decides to act and tackle pollution challenge facing us. At the forefront is the government which has recently came up with new guidelines on how individuals, institutions, organisations and local government authorities can reduce the waste that is produced daily as recently announced by an environment officer in the Ministry of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Dr. Hussein Mohamed.

Also, of equally importance are players from the private sector focusing on environmental conservation and waste recycling among others. Organized by Aqua Farms Organisaton (AFO), these players convened recently in Dar es Salaam to chart a way out on how best Tanzanians can keep their oceans clean and safe for the current and future generation.

In a half day event, AFO aimed at disseminating findings from a research on the perception of marine litter in a study conducted along the coasts of Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo and Zanzibar where more than 200 people were interviewed. Amongst many things, the research showed that marine litter is caused by activities around the ocean, lack of appropriate and innovative solutions, and weak enforcement of waste management.

The research also shows that ecological and socio-economic impacts of marine litter pose risks to the marine environment, coastal appearance; human health, coastal tourism, shipping and fishing industries. Apart from disseminating their findings, the researchers wanted to collect views from stakeholders so that to help fight wrong perceptions among citizens when it comes to marine litter and pollution that was a focus of their earlier research which started in early 2019.

The research was conducted by AFO in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the University of Elizade (Nigeria) under the sponsorship of the Association of Commonwealth University. Of interest to note were the views of stakeholders at the meeting composed mostly by knowledgeable and zealous young people. The Director, AFO, Jerry Man’gena was of the view that environmental protection laws should be translated in Kiswahili, a language spoken by majority in Tanzania.

The decision, he said, will greatly facilitate efforts to keep the oceans and country clean. Apart from translating the laws, he would like to see such laws interlinked and avoid some collision when implementing some of the laws. “To succeed in protecting marine environment, laws on fishery, environment and water must complement each other,” he said, adding people must be made to understand and be ready not only to actively take part but own programs focused on making our oceans and mainland clean and healthy.

On his part, the Kinondoni Fishery Official, Grace Kakana hailed AFO team for the research, saying that the research was timely and that it will help enhance government and East Africa’s efforts in fighting wastes in regional water bodies.

“Such research efforts are crucial in eliminating wastes that are dangerous for our wellbeing,” Grace said. A Secretary for a union of fishermen in Msasani area in Dar es Salaam, Hujeje Mamboleo urged the government to closely monitor the issue of marine pollution. Explaining further, Mr. Hujeje said marine litters especially plastics do harm their vessels’ engines more often. “Some types of fish ingest plastics and lead to their deaths,” he said.

Mr. Hujeje’s concerns on the dangers of plastics are corroborated with scientific findings that show that substantial fish species around the world consume plastic and pose danger to humans who later eat those fish. In an article published in the conversation.com on 9th February 2021, researchers, Alexandra McInturf, University of California, Davis and Matthew Savoca, Stanford University notes that trillions of barely visible pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans, from surface waters to the deep seas.

Participants were of the opinion that education about environment should be initiated and strengthened right from the family and school levels to make children sensitive and responsible care takers of their environs.

“Environmental education should be inculcated in our education curricula,” said Mr. Zagalo Emmanuel from Arena Recycling Industries. On her part, Farida Muslim of Mazingira Plus argued for sustainability of environmental programs, adherence and implementation of environmental laws and learning from best research studies and work on their recommendations.

A founder of Eeco-Initiative organization, Nyakorema Rioba, explained that although Tanzania does not feature in top 20 countries that lead in polluting world’s oceans, there are still challenges to tackle; one of the major challenges being lack of accurate data that shows the exact waste produced by a single person per year.

Author’s email: innovationstz@gmail.com

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