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10.04.2006 General News

The sea is not a rubbish bin - Churcher


Accra, April 10, GNA - Ms Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science, on Monday urged African scientists and environmentalists to devise a sustainable way of disposing of waste instead of using the sea as a huge rubbish-bin.

"For centuries the sea has been used as a huge 'rubbish-bin' into which all types of waste are indiscriminately dumped, including faecal matter. This attitude needs to be stopped as soon as possible to ensure the sustenance of marine life on which our own survival depends," she said.

Ms Churcher was addressing about 35 participants attending a five-day regional workshop on "Pollution and Ecosystem Health", organized by the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) Project, which opened in Accra on Monday.

The 35 participants from the 16-member countries of the GCLME Project, comprising countries along the Gulf of Guinea from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south, are to identify and assess land and sea based pollutions that affected the health of the ecosystem.

The participants are also to determine and address the training needs in the Region for the prevention and control of land and sea based sources of pollution among other objectives.

Ms Churcher said the fact that all types of waste continued to be dumped into the sea in spite of the implications was not because there was no law per se governing waste disposal, but because most countries had problems with enforcement.

"In Africa, we are not able to enforce the laws and policies we make because we all tend to be our brother's keeper," she said. She said: "If we do not change our attitudes of not wanting to offend our brothers, we would rather be ending our lives faster than was intended for us, because we would be eating contaminated fishes and other marine resources from the sea, which might be harmful to our health".

Ms Churcher said apart from the laws and policies not being enforced, the general attitudes of people towards the environment especially the seas and oceans needed to be changed.

The workshop is set to constitute a scientific and technical forum to evaluate and approve draft methodology manuals on marine pollution and the monitoring and development of national programme of action for the prevention of pollution from land based activities.

She called on the Ministry of Education and Sports to incorporate environmental education into the curriculum of schools so that the young ones could change their attitude towards the environment to save the next generation from destruction.

Ms Churcher said to regain control over the marine resources and ensure their effective management, "we do not have a choice but to use the advantages of partnership to build our regional capacity in a united action to fully address our trans-boundary challenges, using appropriate techniques and strategies".

Professor Chidi Ibe, Executive Director, GCLME, welcoming the participants said pollution of the sea and the atmosphere continually impacted on the lives of the more than 300 million residents of the GCLME Region hence the need to develop strategies to combat such pollutions.

Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency, who chaired the function, said there were limits to which the ecosystem could absorbed the pollutants, hence the need for all citizens to change their attitudes towards the environment.