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Environment

What Type of Environment are we creating for our Marine life?

A large percentage of western society is now very disconnected from the food and environment chain.

The food and water we use appears in houses “automatically” and we do not have to rely on the natural yearly season cycle to survive.

This is also the case when we have waste. It is either out of sight and / or someone else’s problem.

Hence, we are harming our marine environment at a rapid rate 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Often simple solutions would fix some of the issues, but little action and will is employed.

Cigarette Butts

The mathematics on the number of butts dumped onto the streets and into our sewers of towns and cities is staggering. A percentage of these end up in the rivers and oceans. Others just leach the chemicals into the water and soil.

If one person smokes 10 cigarettes per day this turns into 70 Per week – 280 per month – 3360 per year – 33600 in 10 years

If 100 people smoke 10 per day = 1000 per day – 7000 per week – 28000 per month – 336000 per year – 3360000 in 10 years

When you see the effects of this out to sea, it makes you sick to see what we are doing to the marine environment

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Plastics

In Sydney Harbour , we are seeing a lot of plastics on boat ramps and in the water. These include:

  • Plastic Drink Bottles
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Bottle tops
  • Protection packaging from top of medicine and supermarket food products
  • Lots of tennis balls

A large amount of this material can be recycled and is washed or blown into the harbour after rain and storms.

All this is preventable from reaching the harbour water with the right measures in place.

Education, alternatives and adequate facilities would go a long way to address this problem, here and in many other places.

Plastic is light and floats easily so it can travel enormous distances across the oceans. Plastics are not biodegradable, hence a plastic bottle can survive an estimated 450 years in the ocean and plastic fishing line can last up to 600 years.

Marine debris (also called litter) usually applies to floating waste such as:

  • bottles,
  • cans,
  • styrofoam,
  • commercial and recreational vessel waste,
  • offshore oil and gas exploration and
  • production facilities pollution, and
  • fishing paraphernalia from professional and recreational boaters.
  • It can enter the water directly through dumping into bodies of water or indirectly through runoff via rivers and streams.

While plastics are not toxic in quite the same way as poisonous chemicals, they nevertheless present a major hazard to seabirds, fish, and other marine creatures.

For example, plastic fishing lines and other debris can strangle or choke fish. In a 1996 study  carried out in the remote Pitcairn islands in the South Pacific, scientists collected debris from a 2km length of beach.

The record shows approximately a thousand pieces of garbage including 268 pieces of plastic, 71 plastic bottles, and two doll’s heads.

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Plastic Bags

Over three billion HDPE plastic bags are imported into Australia yearly.

These are by-product of the oil industry.

In the marine environment plastic bag litter is lethal, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. A Bryde’s whale died recently on after ingesting six square metres of plastic; including plastic bags.

So next time someone asks you if you want a plastic bag: just say no . Every little decision will help our environment.

Pollution of Plastic Bottles

Click here to see PowerPoint Slideshow (.pps 2.7Mb) of plastic bottle pollution.

Sewage

NSW is the biggest dumper of raw sewage in our oceans and rivers. Fact!

Where we dump this sewage is right in the path of the Humpback whales migration path.

Sydney Water sends more than seven times the amount of primary sewage into the ocean than any other water utility, according to a Federal Government map of water use in Australia .

It is one of only three water utilities still sending the lowest-quality waste water straight into the sea. The others are the Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation and Western Australia’s Water Corporation.

All the other states put their waste water through secondary treatment, which removes between 85 per cent and 95 per cent of biodegradable material, and tertiary treatment, which removes solids as well as much of the remaining nutrients.

The Australian Water Association, found Sydney Water still discharges about 72 per cent of its waste as primary sewage rather than higher-quality secondary or tertiary treatment.

Its Northern Territory counterpart dumped about 9 per cent of its sewage as primary sewage into the ocean.

“It is high time to end the dumping of raw and partially treated sewage off Sydney ‘s coastline and recycle the water for industry and agriculture,” said the Federal parliamentary secretary for the environment, Greg Hunt.

This is what we create for our marine animals. Just as we cannot breathe dirty air, we are creating the same situation for our marine life.

With fishing now banned for commercial purposes in Sydney harbour due to serious long term pollution issues. We need to be much stronger on our environment agencies and governments to clean up the whole situation.

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Australia produces some of the largest amounts of Greenhouse gasses

Australia is in the top 10 nations in the world for producing green house gases.

This has contributed to rising sea levels have forced the relocation of an entire village in Vanuatu .

More than 100 residents of Tegua Island had to abandon their settlement for higher ground after major flooding made their village uninhabitable.

This has been described as the first case in the world of the formal displacement of an entire human population because of global warming.

The UN Climate Conference has heard that this could be just the beginning of a trend in the region. Another 2,000 people on the Cantaret Islands off Papua New Guinea are planning to move to Bougainville Island because of similar flooding problems.

Humanity’s future is bound up with the oceans. How well we understand and care for them and their living and non-living resources will, in a real sense, determine our own fate, as well as the fate of the planet as a whole.

At present, the world relies heavily on the oceans for its food supply and other resources, with more than 130 million tons of fish consumed annually .

A recent report by the CSIRO indicates Australia will face some degree of climate change over the next 30 to 50 years, whether we reduce emissions or not.

Many of these changes will be driven by the amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

Overall

Just remember that every major town and city along the east coast is contributing to the environment problem.

It is great to talk about it but the time for action is upon us. It is everyone’s responsibility to act while we have the opportunity.

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