Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to oceans and marine life because it degrades very slowly and remains in waterways for years. Plastic is often ingested by aquatic animals that mistake it for food, which poses serious health consequences for these critters and for humans. Kilometers of discarded fishing net and plastic debris snare and drown thousands of sea creatures per year, and countless dead birds have been found with plastic in their stomachs. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that 100,000 marine mammals and millions of birds and fish have been killed by plastic debris each year. NOAA also reported that 8 million tons of plastics are dumped in oceans each year – the shocking equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. This figure is anticipated to double by 2025. Our oceans, plants, and wildlife are choking on plastic.
Morocco boasts the pristine Atlantic and Mediterranean coast. The last session of Dar Si Hmad’s Water School was devoted to teaching the children about “Aquatic Ecosystems”. The children learned about the animals and plants around the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea hugging Morocco’s coastlines by creating their own “ocean” with blue jello and gummy fish. The shock on the students’ faces when shown pictures of water pollution in Morocco’s water systems and harrowing scenes of dead sea animals ensnared in plastic nets led them to make posters on how important it is to prevent pollution, which they hung proudly around the classroom. In previous years, Dar Si Hmad took the Water School students on a trip to Lexira Beach, an hour away from their villages in Ait Baamrane. For many children, this was the first time they had seen the ocean.
Across the world, mankind is threatened by several dangers. Pollution is at the top of this danger. The images below taken at the source of the Oued Souss River show a perfect example of pollution. It exposes dirty surfaces and water spots contaminated not only by sewage water from factories but also sewage water from homes that often contain toxic substances, such as hydrochloric acid, bleach and detergent. In addition to these materials, plastic bags are thrown into toilettes and nature. Since these products are not biodegradable, it will not degrade for another several centuries.The consequences of this form of pollution are numerous and disastrous. For example, the chemical products that fill the river have led to the disappearance of several animal species like birds and fishes, the former of which fishermen plant themselves in their bad quality in fishing spots close to the source of the river. Despite this, pollution is not an inevitable destiny. There are solutions to end this catastrophe. Companies, schools, the Internet and different mass media outlets play an important role in raising awareness citizens and industries, and another role in pressuring the government to end the laws that prohibit and prevent having such behaviors mentioned above. Lastly, the fight against pollution is impossible if one does not have the will to do so.
The Environmental Youth Ambassadors will be organizing events that gather their community to care for their environment and to create solutions to pressing issues like ocean pollution. Stay tuned for EYA activities leading up to Morocco's hosting COP22 climate change negotiations in November on the EYA blog.