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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Fri, 8 June 2018

On #WorldOceanDay South Africa has more than just plastic pollution to worry about with only 0,4% of our coast protected: the focus of the #OnlyThisMuch campaign, writes Spike.


BABY STEPS: We need to clean it up AND stop using it. Photo Aaron Thomas / Unsplash


With the momentum gathering with the velocity of a speeding diesel locomotive against single-use plastics #WorldOceanDay almost becomes a Day Zero when it comes to our oceans and the momentum that has been building. Enter a new campaign called #OnlyThisMuch that was launched in Cape Town today with a mandate of getting to at least 30% protection "of our oceans to enable and support long term sustainable use."

#OnlyThisMuch has set a goal of achieving five percent protection of South Africa’s coast by Marine Protected Area (MPA) by 2019, and 10% by 2020.

“Funded by Oceans 5 in partnership with Ocean Unite, WWF South Africa, The Green Connection, Centre for Environmental Rights and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research, this coalition hope to gain strategic wins for marine conservation in African waters that will catalyse action across the region,” says Dr Jean Harris of Wild Oceans SA.

"We hope to lead the way to a regional movement for increased protection across all African national waters and Africa’s Southern Ocean territories, while paving the way to African states supporting a global target of 30% strongly protected by 2030."


PLASTIC FOOD: More than 8 million tons of plastic into our oceans annually. Photo Unsplash

chinh-le-duc-475924-unsplashThe campaign launches on the day when the importance and economic sustainability of our oceans are in the spotlight, "making us more mindful of this precious resource, home to billions of species essential to the overall well-being of the planet".

World Ocean Day comes three days after World Environment Day that saw the release of a United Nations report they are calling "the first comprehensive review of plastics with detailed measures and regulations to beat plastic pollution”. Released in New Delhi - in a country with horrendous plastic pollution along with much of southeast Asia and China - Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability, offers waste management methodology, eco-friendly alternatives, education and bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics.

Plastic Oceans says we are "producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use." What cretins we are! To make a container that is used up in 15 minutes but lasts for 450 years. Nee man. It's little wonder that "more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year" to add to the huge stash already in them.

Another way of looking at it is that there is enough trash in the ocean to fill six garbage bags along every 30 centimetres of all coastline on the planet.


PLASTIC EVERYWHERE: You can't go to a beach where there is no plastic debris. Photo Unsplash

We know the dead albatross chicks on Midway Island, bloated with plastic fed to them by unwitting parents. You heard the heart-rending story of a pilot whale in Thailand that took five days to die with more than 80 plastic bags (eight kilograms) stuck in its stomach - not a nice way to highlight World Ocean Day a few days later, or the best way.

With a global average of somewhere between 5.8 (developing countries) and 11.2 percent (40 developed countries), South Africa is way behind the curve ball with only 0.4% of our nearshore marine environment in a designated MPA. The South African government - under former President Jacob Zuma's guidance - have embarked on Operation Phakisa. This elaborate economic plan aims to fast-track the extraction of marine oil and gas and fish from South African waters to create one million jobs. Phakisa means “hurry up” in Sesotho.

Of course, I would rather live on a planet that is not dead and choked with pollution than have a job, but that's maybe just me.Of course, I would rather live on a planet that is not dead and choked with pollution than have a job, but that's maybe just me. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa did make the right noises on Tuesday when she urged South Africans to eradicate plastic pollution by avoiding single-use plastic products and recycling existing products. She reiterated her department's commitment to minimizing plastic pollution by introducing a raft of measures such as phasing out the use of micro-beads in the production of cosmetics, one of several that align with a plastic material study by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

They also announced that DEA and Trade and Industry (dti) as well as DTI agencies, SABS, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, as well as the National Treasury would review the country’s plastic bag policies.

More Reading
https://plasticoceans.org/ https://www.environment.gov.za/content/home


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