The UN established that the fourth Thursday of September was the WORLD MARITIME DAY in order to expose to the world the need to maintain and improve the safety and efficiency of international maritime operations1. No one is unaware that a ship, whether merchant, oil or war, is a potential risk to the health of the seas: in the past we have seen disasters caused by spills of oil tankers, counted 130 since 1960. The organization GREENPEACE calculates that annually 5 million tons of oil are spilled in the world's seas: 10% of these spills originate in accidents of oil tankers but the rest is attributable to the sum of: extraction in oil mega-platforms at sea, loading and discharge of ships and tank cleaning operations.
Take measures to ensure that, for example, spills caused by boat accidents do not occur, because they are avoidable. One example: a year, some 6,000 oil tankers sail through international waters and, of these, only one third have a double hull to avoid spills in the event of an accident1.
The urgency of applying strict controls in both transport and mega-platforms of oil extraction, aims to prevent the degradation of the oceans, which are now already giving clear signals of alert to the disaster that is looming which has three sides: ecological, social and economic crisis.
The other two are also emerging from the ecological crisis: at the rate of fishing that is carried out today and that is carried out with the use of non-selective fishing techniques, most of which are destructive, it is very likely that it will be increasingly prevented from recovering fish stocks, and by the way, marine ecosystems are damaged: many of the fish species that we currently consume, in the future we will only see encyclopedias. This is the case of the Mediterranean Sea where 80% of the species are overexploited3.
The World Maritime Day should make us think about the threats that the seas of the world have, therefore we should ask: What are the solutions? And, above all, I, like any other person, what can I do?
Let's see the lines of action that allow us to alleviate the black panorama that looms over the seas:
- Increase controls: Demand greater technical controls in maritime transport, such as mega-platforms for oil exploration, and impose tougher sanctions on offenders.
- Increase marine reserves: increase the largest number of marine reserves as an effective way to close the way to uncontrolled oil exploitation of the sea. In this part come into play governments and politicians to whom citizens must require them to apply laws and harsh sanctions, enforce scientific regulations and generate incentives to privilege investments that are respectful with the sea: no urban growth and chaotic foot of the sea A well-preserved, brick-free coastline is the best formula for dealing with sea level rise due to climate change and preserving the coastal ecosystems.
- Apply a sustainable fishing model: encourage traditional methods and the recovery of fishery resources.
- Demand only sustainable fish: here we play a role of ordinary citizens, as long as we bet and only buy fish that distributors and supermarkets guarantee as "sustainable fish", we force fishing companies to apply a fishing model respectful with the environment.
- Support organizations that work for the marine environment: it is no secret to these organizations that they work with their nails, so any contribution, however modest, added to others, helps a lot. An example in sight: the UN has just approved the new Treaty for the protection of marine life on the high seas. This means that international waters will also be subject to controls to prevent large fishing companies that act as predators from ending them. This treaty is the result of pressure from environmental organizations that receive small funds from anonymous citizens like you, as me or as our neighbor, who have something in common: love the planet, which as Pope Francis says, "is the home of all »
1In 1980, the IMO Assembly decided that World Maritime Day should be observed during the last week of September, and stresses that the convening of the World Day is to preserve the safety of life at sea and prevent marine pollution.
2,3Reports of the NGO Greenpeace.