Impact of waste disposal – fishing trawlers, boats, etc.

On 16 September 2017, Marine Anti-Poaching Unit joined the international coastal clean-up and it was an eye opener to see the sheer amount of waste collected.

The staggering bit of the day was realising that at least 50% of the waste clearly washed onshore. After chatting to some of the locals it was advised that when fish trawlers are in the general area, the garbage on the beach is evident within hours, thus these boats are throwing their trash and unwanted equipment overboard outside of regulations.

Research shows that an aluminium tin can last a staggering 80-200 years and this is not the worst of it. ( ) During the clean-up we pulled a fishing net from the shore and dragged it to the collection point. The net was at least 10 X 5 meters and knowing what damage it could cause to our marine life made the sweat and exhaustion worth it.

All emotion aside, it is good to know that South Africa is part of the international fight against marine pollution. In 2011, the international community adopted the Honolulu strategy: a global framework for prevention and management of marine debris as a voluntary action plan to reduce the ecological, human health, and economic impacts of marine debris. Whereas the Honolulu strategy is a global strategy, the objective of the African marine waste network conference has been to develop a strategy for Africa, adapted to the cultures and circumstances of Africa.  ( )

There is a variety of information available on the internet regarding waste disposal at sea and what is allowed and what is not. The key is to remember the boats, trawlers, cruise ships, etc. is having a direct impact on our marine life, nature and the cleanliness of our ocean. Various animals are dying due to consumption of the waste they mistake for food. As a community familiarise yourself with the regulations and if you witness any activity outside of the rules, please report the incident to the local authorities as they have an obligation to react and address the matter.