Uhuru Kenyatta tells G7 countries to lead plastic pollution fight

Posted By Stop Illegal Fishing:9th Jun, 2018: Sustainability

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on global super powers to take a leading role in controlling the use of plastics to save marine life.

In Quebec where he joined leaders of the most-industrialised nations called the G7, President Kenyatta called for political will to tame what he described as a slow death of life in the oceans.

The president gave Kenya’s experience in banning plastic carrier bags last August, with manufacturers and importers facing up to Sh4 million in fines if they contravene the law.

But he said struggling nations like Kenya and Rwanda who have banned these carrier bags could do little to save oceans if the economically stronger ones don’t support the cause.

“The G7 should recognise this as a need and speak with a strong voice against the vice of plastics and its adverse effects on environmental pollution and climate change,” the president said.

“We also seek support for African countries to build capacity to prevent disasters, and if they do happen, to solidify our management and ability to recover,” the Head of State added.

Mr Kenyatta was addressing the outreach segment of the G7 Summit in the Canadian province of Quebec under themes gender equality, climate change, development and security.

BLUE ECONOMY

Kenya is due to co-host an inaugural summit on the blue economy later in November and the president used the occasion to call for support in safeguarding the seas.

In his speech, he argued that plastics that end up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and can take up to 1,000 years before decompose.

While at it, he told the audience that scientists have found that marine life such as turtles, fish and sea birds confuse the floating debris for food. And when they ingest it, humans end up eating it too.

TURTLE CLINIC

In Kilifi, for example, scientists recently started a ‘clinic’ to treat turtles affected by plastics. But such moves require control of emissions into the waters.

“So it is not just a danger to the fish, but directly affects us. Your political will and decisive action are vital in driving this agenda.”

A study by the Centre for Biodiversity last year found that plastics may have dangerous chemicals, but can also act as magnets for other pollutants.

Among the G7 members, only France and Italy have implemented controls on plastic usage. The other members, UK, US, Canada, Japan and Germany are yet to implement bans.

When Kenya banned plastic bags last year, it joined 40 other countries who have established some form of control on usage.

POLICING

President Kenyatta did admit the limitations of his administration in harvesting the ocean’s benefits.

Besides poor policing and equipment, the president said protection against environmental harm needs global cooperation.

In Kenya, the seas could provide up to 300,000 tonnes of fish a year. But last year, Kenya harvested just 10,000 tonnes according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Fishermen use archaic methods and equipment such as dhows and canoes and catch fish with limiting gear.

But the Kenyan oceans are also poorly policed, meaning foreign vessels could easily dump chemicals or fish illegally.

Mr Kenyatta called for support to curb illegal fishing that is done using unauthorised gear, fishing of unauthorised , infractions mostly perpetrated by fleets operating in Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“The Western Indian Ocean comprising Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania has rich marine resources that attract about 500 commercial fishing vessels from around the world, mainly to catch tuna for consumption in the West. However, one of every five fish are caught illegally,” the President said.

Kenyan, Senegalese, Rwandese and South African leaders are attending as guests.

Source: Nation

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