In the early 2000s I travelled to the city of Manado which is situated on the northern tip of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. On the map it appeared as an extended arm reaching out into the vast Indian Ocean. Because of its seemingly remote location I was excited at the prospect of being in a pollution-free environment. I was shocked when I walked the city’s streets. The amount of discarded plastic containers clogging the slimy gutters was mind boggling – an absolute mess!
The next major shock was when the diving resort’s boat came into a small boating harbour to take me out to their resort on Bunaken Island a few kilometres off shore.
We would have travelled a minimum of 500 metres before the boat was free of pushing aside the floating mat of plastic garbage. I could not imagine what the biological condition of the seabed below would be like!
The city’s population has been steadily growing from around 275,000 in 1990 to now approaching half a million in 2017.
At the time I thought, oh well at least New Zealand is ‘clean’ as our population approaches five million. As we know this ‘clean green’ image of New Zealand is promoted to the world. It’s good for tourism and food exports.
Admittedly New Zealand’s coastal city waters are not as polluted as Manado’s. But we do have a problem. The amount of discarded rubbish that lies in heaps beside some of our inner harbour waterways is very evident and of course we have all seen the mindless dumping of household rubbish along our country roads.
Currently Greenpeace are doing a major fundraising promotion: END OCEAN PLASTICS.
Their lecture has some sobering points:
- New Zealand uses 1.6 billion plastic bags annually
- The floating plastic island in the Pacific Ocean is now the size of nine New Zealands
- 91% of the world’s plastic is not recycled
- Microplastics are appearing in our sea food
- One study suggests you could be eating 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year if you enjoy shellfish! Fish flesh is also showing it can contain microplastics!
Most life that either live in or by the sea is being affected; birds, mammals, turtles, etc., are literally choking to death.
I guess we may see a groundswell of people taking an interest in this worldwide problem as people realise that their bodies are also being polluted by microplastics. Will they begin to worry about genetic problems that may be passed on to their future generations?
Humans are visual animals, so we tend to react to things we can see.
Unfortunately for the world’s oceans, the pollution it carries is rarely seen and microplastics are never seen, so people basically go on their merry way as if there is nothing to worry about!
People WILL notice that supermarkets, Countdown and New World, are not going to use plastic bags in the future. This has come about by public pressure. So just maybe people and businesses have decided it’s time to make some changes in the way we shop. It’s a start in the right direction!
As we head into the summer season you will seeing some of Jose’s work supporting Greenpeace’s campaign, End Ocean Plastics on TV and social media. www.greenpeace.org
Please support the campaign.
In the next issue we will be featuring some stunning mermaid images by Nelson’s professional photographer Jose G. Cano.
We wish to thank our advertisers for their support during the year, also our loyal subscriber and readers. We wish you all a peaceful Christmas and hopefully a chance to enjoy some time beneath the waves – have fun and take care.
Editor at Large