Blue Ocean Conference: Plastic Waste threatens West African Oceans, say Swedish Ambassador, others

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By George Harris

The dumping of plastic products such as sachets and bottles along coastal shores in some West African states poses threat to ocean life, said Elisabeth Harleman, Acting Swedish Ambassador  to Liberia. She made the remark at the official opening ceremony of the Blue Ocean conference in Liberia.

The Ambassador said that plastic products remain one of the biggest components of waste in the ocean and urged West African nations including Liberia to take a new course in ensuring the reduction of plastic products usage and waste.

In the same vein, Jessica Donavan-Allen, Country Director for Conservation International (CI), called on stakeholders including advocacy groups, decision and policy makers to rise to the occasion to confront challenges of marine pollution, climate change, sustainable fishing, and the Blue Economy.

Allen alerted stakeholders that a global perspective is necessary to confront the rising threat on the oceans and coastal communities.

“The growing threat to our oceans is affecting every person on earth, and the movement toward more ‘blue’ economies is global; and we need to apply that global perspective, that wealth of knowledge and experiences to our own effort to manage our oceans and marine resources in a more sustainable manner,” she said.

She also urged West African nations to take the lead in managing oceans in the region because “it is critical that we lead the charge in advancing the responsible stewardship our oceans and the sustainable management of our oceans resources”.

In addition, Nathaniel T. Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) described the conference as a historic event for Liberia. Blama said that the conference gives Liberia the opportunity to discuss problems and partake in the decision-making process of mitigating problems confronting West Africa’s marine ecosystem.

He said that West African nations can realize a lot in conserving the ocean if the nations in the region have the political will to make the right decisions. “This is not a question of what do we do,” said Blama but is “a question of the willpower to do what we know we can do. If we make the right choices if we set the right priorities if we respond timely and understand that saving our ocean is not just an option but an absolute necessity, we will get there.”

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