By: Alexis Kirven
What Causes Ocean Pollution?
One of the major causes of ocean
pollution is the discharge of
crude oil, accidental or
deliberate, in the oceans.
This happens in course of
transportation of ships, when
these ships discharge their waste
in the ocean.
Ocean pollution statistics give
the gruesome picture of the
hazard the marine life is facing.
This problem is faced by all the
oceans of the world.
Transportation of vessels
carrying various ores can also
lead to pollution of the water
body when these ore sediments
are accidentally dumped in it.
What effect the Ocean Pollution?
Ocean pollution is hazardous for marine life. Oil spilled in oceans is disastrous for
all forms of marine life including coral reefs, fish, and marine plants.
Coral reefs are in fact the worst affected as excessive ocean pollution and global
warming threaten to wipe them off the planet within a few more years.
Ocean pollution leads to depletion of oxygen dissolved in water, which in turn
makes it difficult for various sea animals to breathe underwater.
Humans are not left out the hazardous effects of ocean pollution as marine life is a
major source of food for humans.
Ocean Pollution prevention
Prevention of marine water pollution
emphasizes on identifying the various
ocean pollution causes and finding a
solution for them. These include
Ensuring that there is no leakage of
crude oil from tankers by regular
monitoring of vessels by proper agencies.
Declaring deliberate discharge of crude
oil by vessels and industrial waste by
industries on land as an offense with a
Ensuring that garbage produced by
humans is treated properly instead of
just dumping it in the oceans.
Ensuring that the amount of air
pollution, which causes phenomena such
as acid rain, is lessened if not totally
Understanding the importance of marine
life for us and making sure that we don't
cause harm to them.
Different types of Ocean Pollution
Petroleum products used for fuel from the earth deep below the
ocean surfaces. Occasionally, offshore drilling rigs experience
accidental leaks. Ships carrying oil have also been known to cause
devastating oil spills, but these are large
scale disasters. Oil seepage
occurs on a smaller but continuous level, leaching from factories
and other plants. In fact, one of the greatest sources of oil pollution
is people who pour various cooking oils and grease down the sink
drains in their homes.
A portion of the billions if not trillions of tons of trash produced each
year finds its way into ocean waters. This comes as no surprise to
anyone who has seen plastic bottles and other waste floating onto
the beaches. Trash is often dumped from ships and offshore drilling
rigs directly into the sea. Aside from trash, industrial waste is one of
the major issues when it comes to ocean dumping. These toxic
chemicals, including radioactive chemicals, are a death sentence for
ocean life forms.
Animal waste and human wastewater from toilets and other
household activities such as bathing and laundering as well as
food preparation are often washed directly into the ocean from
coastal communities. Untreated sewage contains microbes or
pathogens that precipitate disease when infected seafood is
consumed or skin contact occurs. In some cases, solid sludge
from treated sewage is also dumped into the oceans.
Air pollution and ocean pollution are inextricably linked.
Pollution from automobiles and factories is translated into acid
rain, which falls into the ocean and mingles with its waters.
Rainwater washes pesticides and fertilizers into smaller
water sources such as streams and rivers, which
ultimately carny those toxic chemicals into the ocean.
Another source of agricultural runoff is animal waste,
which is not treated like human sewage. For example,
runoff from Midwestern farms into the Mississippi River
is responsible for the "Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico,
which features very little marine life.
Sunscreen is a lesser known source of pollution, but can
have grave effects. The chemicals in sunscreen worn by
swimmers and divers washes off into the ocean water and
life on coral reefs and suffocates them. Vast
swaths of reefs have been destroyed, but there are eco
friendly sunscreen products on the market that help to
prevent this terrible side
effect, while still protecting skin
from cancerous sunrays.
Economic Impact of Pollution
The economic impact of ocean pollution is far
Since it affects the population of seafood, the fishing and
crabbing industries, among others, are directly affected.
The local economies of coastal towns that depend on these
industries can be devastated by a large scale disaster,
such as an oil spill. Tourism also suffers in beach
communities that are overcome by pollutants in the
Ocean Pollution Regulations
The US government and international conventions have enacted many laws
and treaties to prohibit the dumping of wastes and other contaminates
into the world oceans. Such regulations include:
1890 River and Harbors Act (discharge of dredged materials)
1972 Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act
(Ocean Dumping Act)
1972 Treaty, the Convention on the Prevention of Marine
Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London
1973 The International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
1988 Ocean Dumping Ban Act
2000 Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health
Act (BEACH Act)