A major part of earth is made up of bodies of water but on risk of degradation due to complacency of some concerned parties. The seas and oceans serve as indispensable tools for vessels carrying different type of commodities. They link continents and are the primary reason why the so-called maritime industry was entrenched. We belong to this billion dollar business and our careers were considered high-prized and even envied by many. As we thrive however, we contribute to some environmental issues and concerns, like the following:
- The incompetence of one marine deck officer to navigate the vessel safely had caused grounding to a particular marine protected area. Coral reefs were crushed by the ship’s hull and thick films of oil cover the surface, depriving underwater organisms of sufficient oxygen to breathe.
- The engine department failed to keep a vigilant watch during bunkering. The personnel-in-charge stationed at the manifold left the area to get some stuff inside the accommodations. He didn’t even inform the duty engineer about his intention. Even though it took just a couple of minutes for him to go back, it was too late. The bunker hose connection leaked strongly and oil started to rush overboard.
- The mess man had been working for long hours so he quickly dumped overboard a plastic bag full of food waste. He was fully informed of the different means of disposal between a food waste and plastic-made material. To defend his unawareness, he just told himself that the act wasn’t that bad. Nobody had seen him that night and it wasn’t the first time he threw plastic directly to the sea.
- Due to lack of financial resources, the shipping company failed to hire private cleaning-up contractors thus, a massive oil spill blackened the white coast of one tropical country. If early mitigation had been initiated, it is believed that the area of damage would have been smaller than the present catastrophe.
While the aforementioned events sound unlikely to happen, the truth is – we just can’t neglect any possibility that it might occur in our own backyards. Without compromising our safety, we should be serious enough in our efforts to protect the environment, take the lead on spreading information about environmental protection and conservation and encourage other colleagues to join our campaign. Now is indeed the right time to forge the badge of “eco-friendly seafarers” to our souls.
Comply with MARPOL 73/78
– The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL 73/78) serves as the bible of the maritime industry workers when it comes to environment laws and regulations. For short history, the massive oil spill caused by the ill-fated tanker ship Torrey Canyon in 1968 had triggered the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ink this regulation in one diplomatic conference in 1973. Another disaster, however, pushed the international body to ameliorate the shortcomings of the first convention. The tanker ship Amoco Cadiz badly fordone the coast of Brittany in 1977 thus, MARPOL 1973 had to be rectified. Finally, a protocol to convention had been agreed and the title MARPOL 73 was then changed to what we know today as MARPOL 73/78. Furthermore, MARPOL 73/78 has six annexes which details prevention of pollution from oil, chemicals carried in bulk, dangerous goods in package form, sewage, garbage and exhaust gases. For more details about these annexes, read the MARPOL 73/78 manual available onboard your ships. On the other hand, you might find some requirements very stringent to follow that a short-cut of the procedures may be mainly considered. If you intend to do so, please be reminded that the MARPOL 73/78 is an international law which you should follow diligently. Your torts can send you to prison so don’t behave recklessly.
Follow your company’s Environmental Policy
A company’s policy should be clear, achievable and most of all, people and nature friendly. It was crafted to cause no harm to you and our surroundings so follow it wisely.
In my company for example, it requires its people to be among the industry leaders in safety and protection of the environment. We shall also not participate in any practices which are unsafe and illegal.
Go for green Cities
The ship is just your temporary dwelling place and going home after your contract ends is one of the best moments in a seafarer’s life. But there are times that you get sick on your first days of vacation primarily due to the abrupt change of ambience. The air at the middle of the sea is fresher than what you’ve got on the city. Not to mention that jammed traffic, scattered rubbish and foul odors are just around the corner, making your life more miserable to live. Well, don’t raise your eyebrows why it’s happening. It’s the adverse effect of globalization so put on your gloves and make things better for your place. Would you like to go back to work without contributing something pro-nature or you’ll be a green agent of change? I hope you don’t let your hometown to smell and rot.
Plant more trees
We humans are said to be the most complex creation ever made but to physically convert the three states of matter without the aid of any equipment, the trees are mightier than us. Interestingly, they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, purify water and filter soil until they die. They provide food and habitat to myriad living organisms, serve as natural air filters, regulate global temperature and their existence even give peace of mind to people of the community. However, their existence and ours are on tough competition for land today. As the world’s population pops tremendously, so is their rapid degradation. The rampant illegal logging and deforestation were pointed out to be the main factors of the degradation. If these activities continue, time comes for sure that we would be gasping for a natural & safe air to breathe.
Trees are part of land resources and to properly utilize them is fair enough. Since the demands for their use never halt, we should take serious efforts to compensate for any uprooted or ruined tree in return.
Fight Climate change
Since the industrial revolution the swift rise of atmospheric temperature, change of weather patterns, melting of ice glaciers, shrinking of sea icesheets and ascending sea levels are very prevalent. Consequently, the effects of climate change are felt and dreadful on some parts of the globe. For example, the food production and security had been affected seriously in some hot regions of Africa, causing famine and hunger to many people. Though climate change is not a new issue, many are still unaware of the truth that we cause our own sufferings. We became our own villains and when calamities happen due to our abuse of nature; our lapses slap hard hit hard our faces.
While it would take a considerable length of time and more comprehensive actions to regain the natural temperature level and constant tempo of weather, we should act as soon as possible to counteract climate change. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, use non-renewable sources of energy and plant more tress are just some of the helpful and proven ways.
The general alarm had sounded. It’s time to raise the green flag and be an advocate of positive change no matter how hard the challenges are. We like the picturesque view of the sunrise and sunset. We find hope in watching the lovely moon and twinkling stars. The dawn marks a new day, a new hope and a new life while the dusk serves as a good reminder to leave our worries for that day and face tomorrow head-on with a refreshed level of strength and confidence. Yes, nature is enchanting at sea and we just can’t let the magic stop so we should take a stand to protect and conserve what we enjoy but isn’t ours to own.
The end of earth is the end of all. As seambassadors, we have the duty to protect & conserve our environment.