NIGERIA – The Lagos Recyclers Association (LAGRA) has urged government and corporate bodies to take conscious steps towards reducing waste and plastic pollution to safeguard the health and sustainability of marine ecosystems.

Dr. Femi Idowu-Adegoke, President of the association made the call while speaking at the second Annual Lagos Recyclers Conference and Exhibition with the theme: “Life Under Water”.

Idowu-Adegoke said it was relevant to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

According to him, healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence as they cover 70 percent of our planet, make up 97 percent of earth’s water and we rely on them for food, energy, and water.

He noted that oceans and coastal areas are extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation, overfishing, climate change and pollution.

“Aquatic ecosystems in Nigeria are diverse including freshwater, brackish, and coastal waters as well as marine ecosystems,” said Idowu-Adegoke.

“They support a diversity of animal species which serve as food for man and support ecosystem functioning.

“These ecosystems provide significant services to man including transport, abstraction of water for domestic and industrial use, power generation, reservoir of hydrocarbon deposits, and food security, among others.”

The LAGRA president urged everyone to protect and ensure the sustainable use of oceans by intentionally reducing marine pollution and ocean acidification, ending overfishing and conserving marine and coastal ecosystems.

Also, Mrs Belinda Odeneye, a retired Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, underscored the importance of the conference to discuss the state of the ocean and waterways.

Odeneye said that the oceans and waterways are facing unprecedented threats and challenges including climate change, overfishing, and all kinds of pollution.

“Plastic pollution has reached an alarming level and our oceans are choking. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification and extreme weather events are disrupting marine ecosystems and coastal communities,” she said.

“We must accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transit to clean energy sources and protect the resilience of our coastal areas.”

She added that overfishing remained a critical concern with many fish stocks on the brink of collapse and extinction.

Addressing this, Odeneye said, required sustainable fishery management and protection of critical marine habitat to ensure the long-term health of our oceans and the livelihood of coastal communities.

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