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African Marine Waste strategy to be developed in Nelson Mandela Bay

Jul 5, 2017
African Marine Waste strategy to be developed in Nelson Mandela Bay

The first pan-African strategy to deal with marine waste is the key outcome of the African Marine Waste Conference, which runs from 9-13 July in Port Elizabeth.

Over 200 delegates, including  many of the world's leading environmentalists, from more than 15 countries will present and digest the latest research and industry perspectives on the status of waste in the oceans, before crafting a pan-African plan for combating the continent's accelerating pollution problem.

Conference Organiser Dr Tony Ribbink CEO of the Sustainable Seas Trust said it was estimated that 350 kg's of plastic was reaching the ocean every second, which could potentially create the situation in 2050 where the ocean would contain more plastics than fish .

"This pollution is killing millions of marine animals and sea birds each year, damaging sensitive ecosystems, affecting environmental and human health. Aside from this fundamental degradation, the cost to Africa run's in to billions annually,'' says Ribbink.

"Africa is data poor on the matter of marine waste on both sea and land, and limited research has been done so far meaning that management and development of informed strategies is being impeded," he said.

The conference has attracted more than 30 of the world's leading researchers, including US based environmental superstar Sylvia Earle.

The presence of Ted Prize winner Earle, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, who has 22 honourary degrees and more than a hundred national and international honours, is considered a major coup for the Metro.

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, called a "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine, is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.

In addition to Earle other notable participants include Ivory Coast's Abou Bamba  the Executive Secretary of The Abidjan Convention, an intergovernmental coastal and marine conservation treaty, and US-based Nancy Wallace the Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program the federal lead for researching, preventing, and reducing the impacts of marine debris in the United States.

Wallace, the Chair of the United Nation’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter, and Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Marine Debris Working Group, will be joined by other internationals including Chris Wilcox a research scientist with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, stationed in Hobart, Tasmania, Dr. Jenna Jambeck  an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia,  and the co-developer of the mobile app -  Marine Debris Tracker and Kristian Teleki the Senior Marine Adviser to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and the Director of Engagement for Ocean Unite, among others.

Plenary speakers will be joined by over  30 break-away presenters sharing cutting edge research and innovation.

According to Ribbink,  the Conference, to be held at the Feathermarket Centre, with the support of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality as host,  the SA Tourism National Convention Bureau and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency,  seeks to address a continent, connected to a world grappling with sustainable, innovative and effective solutions, he says.

The first formal activity of the conference is on Sunday 9 July, when the yacht Boazwill sail from the Algoa Bay Yacht Club with a fleet of other boats as a public call to action to reduce waste entering the seas from land and from vessels.

After the morning sail, renowned US Based, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, also the architect of the Global Hope Spot initiative, Dr. Sylvia Earle, will officially launch the partnership between Sustainable Seas Trust and Boaz.

Together they will promote research, education and awareness in Southern African Hope Spots and the Western Indian Ocean, with a focus on marine debris. To join this celebration, public is invited to the Algoa Bay Yacht Club at 12 noon on 9 July.

The first two days of conference at the Feathermarket Centre  are devoted to environmental issues, education, research, data and reality checks. The third day is focussed to industry sections, but with an alternative program including questioning our current position, how to innovate, to develop economic enterprises, find solutions and seek alternatives to plastics

On the final day, Ribbink says, ordinary citizens and global experts will share ideas at carefully structured workshops to develop the content of the “Marine Waste Strategy: Guide to Action for Africa”, a document containing guidelines to mitigate Africa’s waste problems.

For more information view www.sstconference.org.za