It is with great satisfaction that HELMEPA salutes the launching of the United Nations’ marine litter campaign titled “Clean Seas”. Officially announced at the Economist World Ocean Forum in Bali, the campaign is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and specifically Goal 14.1: “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution .”
Pollution of the marine environment, especially with plastics, has reached alarming levels. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic waste reach our seas and oceans every year! Plastics poses a huge threat for the populations of 600 different marine species, which are injured or die as a result of entanglement or by eating them. Considerable is also the economic impact of marine litter on coastal communities due to aesthetic pollution, reduced tourist flows, cleanup costs etc.
The problems associated with this type of pollution have been highlighted since the mid ‘80s by HELMEPA’s campaigns, starring the Association’s famous “Seagul” under the motto “No Litter, No Plastics in Seas and on Beaches”.
The new UN campaign aims to secure commitments from Governments, as well as private sector enterprises and members of the general public, to reduce plastics. For example, the industry and private businesses can phase out microbeads in personal care and cosmetics products, improve plastic management and commit to plastic re-design, re-use, recycling and recovery. Each and every one of us can change everyday habits, i.e. replace plastic bags with a cloth bag, use a thermos for water and avoid using single-use plastic cups.
In the context of this global effort, HELMEPA will further enhance the information provided to its volunteer Members, 14,000 Greek seafarers, 200 companies and organizations and 400 vessels, on this significant problem. Moreover, it will enrich the environmental awareness provided to 10,000 schoolchildren, who participate annually in the “HELMEPA Junior” and “Cadets” programs and will seek to attract wider participation in the approximately 250 beach and underwater cleanup actions, which the Association coordinates every year with the contribution of volunteers throughout Greece.