Published on 23/04/2021
A lot of litter will end up in our oceans, and while some may be biodegradable, plastic doesn’t decompose completely. It is estimated that plastic can take up to 450 years to break down and even then, it may not be completely gone, it can become microplastics.
You may remember the story of the rubber duck journey, where the plastic toys spilled into the ocean by accident in 1992 and over the next 25 years, many were washing up on shores, barely changed.
300 millions tonnes of plastic is produced annually. 8 million tonnes of this will end up in our oceans. Plastic makes up 80% of the litter found in the ocean.
Whilst 80% of ocean litter is land based, that doesn’t mean any heat is taken form the maritime industry, we should still strive to play our part.
Problems and pollutions
Plastics in the ocean can cause harm to marine life as they either ingest or become tangled in the plastic we have thrown away which cause them to choke, suffocate or drown. This effects the extinction risk of many marine mammals, fish, sea birds and sea turtles who may mistake plastic for food.
The plastics in our ocean has major effect on our marine life and the eco system as a whole and whilst some may think this doesn’t affect us, microplastics will be ingested by marine life and in turn, end up in our food webs.
Studies have found alarming amounts of plastic in the food we ingest, two thirds of the food seafood that is for human consumption was found to have plastic in, according to studies. Ingesting plastic is very harmful to human health as the chemicals in plastic can be toxic and even cause mutations.
Prevention of Single Use Plastic
A crew of around 15 people can consume up to 10,000 1.5 litre bottles a year. Due to this, ways to prevent single use plastic on board vessels can be reduced by buying equipment with reduced plastic packaging, using supplies that could be reusable and storing waste rather than expelling it overboard.
Single use plastic on ships has been banned in countries such as India and Kuwait.
India first banned single use plastic on ships in 2020 which included plastic water bottles, meaning drinking water on ships needed to become readily available for ships under the flag of India or Kuwait.
Kuwait joined India in banning single use plastic, meaning items such as plastic cutlery, water bottles, plastic bags and food containers.
Ships now entering ports in Kuwait and India now must make log entries of their single plastic use and get rid of the waste elsewhere and is strictly banned for discharge straight into the ocean under the MARPOL ANNEX V legislation.
Other countries are soon hoping to follow in India’s and Kuwait’s footsteps in banning single use plastic aboard their ships.
Safe Drinking Water
By 2025, it is hoped that 90% of plastic bottles must be recycled. In the maritime industry, we can cut down on single use plastic and the use of plastic bottles by providing crews and customers with safe drinking water.
Having safe drinking water on your vessel will begin to reduce your plastic bottle use as the need for bottled water will be significantly reduced.
Many water-borne diseases can be found in water systems that are left unchecked however so it is essential that your crew tests for bacteria such as Legionella regularly when you are relying on water systems.
What is Legionella?
Legionella is a water borne bacteria found in water systems that have been inactive for a long time. The bacterium can be found in stagnant water within pipes or biofilms.
If the bacteria is inhaled by anyone, they will begin to experience pneumonia like symptoms that can be fatal.
Plastic isn’t the only pollutant
Ocean litter is a major cause of marine pollution but did you know that ships are allowed to expelled untreated raw sewage into the ocean as long as they are 12 nautical miles from land?
Raw sewage going directly into the ocean produces harmful bacteria to marine life, causing dead zones, which is an area where no life exists in the ocean. It also kills fish which leads to consequences within our food chains and if contaminated seafood is eaten, it causes major illnesses in people, particularly indigenous people who may rely on fish as their main source of food.
Legislation and how to comply
In order to reduce the devastating effect sewage can have on ocean life, legalisation such as MARPOL ANNEX IV came into play in which a vessel must comply, or else face a fine or even detention. This piece of legislation means that vessels much have a sewage treatment plan that disinfects the water and have a holding tank on-board.
Compliance with legislation may overwhelming as it is changing in order to help protect marine life.
Sustainability at Martek
We are dedicated to building a sustainable and profitable business while continuing to operate responsibly with honesty, integrity and fairness. At Martek Marine, we are committed to establishing high ethical standards of behaviour and effective corporate governance.
This defines our strategic and financial objectives. Corporate responsibility remains central to delivering our strategy and achieving our success. We are committed to conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner. We are putting in place processes to understand and address our responsibilities in respect of our operational impacts on the environment. We aim to reduce the use of replacement parts and calibration to help overcome waste and excessive carbon emission.
How to maintain water quality
Water quality on board your vessel should be checked at least twice a year. Testing will be based on factors such as the frequency of the drinking water, how fresh the water is, visual observation and how the water is treated.
If you need any help to ensure that you can test your water safety and aid you to begin your plastic reduction onboard your vessel, please reach out to us and a member of our team will be happy to assist.
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