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Together we can beat marine pollution in the Caribbean

Posted in: Regional News by volderine | 07 June 2019 | 2004

    An island of plastic can be seen floating in the Caribbean sea (Photo via World Bank)
    An island of plastic can be seen floating in the Caribbean sea (Photo via World Bank)

    Let’s start with the wins. In a robust effort to tackle marine pollution, 14 Caribbean countries, accounting for one-third of the region’s Small Island States, have banned single-use plastics and/or Styrofoam . This is a critical first step, particularly as the Caribbean moves toward a Blue Economy – increasing growth while ensuring that ocean and marine resources are sustainably managed and used.

    Just a few decades ago, the Caribbean Sea and its beaches were pristine. Fast forward to today, when hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic remain uncollected on Caribbean islands each year and voluminous waves of plastic waste wash up on the shores, especially after severe storms.

    In our own travels, we have witnessed increased pressures on Small Island States: growing populations, unmanaged coastal development, quickening climate change, more shipping, and a longtime dearth of waste collection and management. Combined, these challenges to ocean health are a threat to the millions of people who depend on oceans for their food, jobs, and livelihoods – not to mention the USD $57 billion of revenue that the region’s coastal tourism brings in annually.

    Entire ecosystems and the natural assets these countries depend on are undermined by marine pollution, which includes plastics, sewage, agricultural runoff, gas, and oil. The Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to health-related impacts of pollution, such as viruses borne of mosquitoes that breed in the litter. In fact, litter accounts for 7-15 % of breeding habitats for mosquitoes carrying dengue, chikungunya, and zika viruses in Latin America and the Caribbean .

    Read more at: World Bank

    Read World Bank report on marine pollution in the Caribbean here