The signals coming from environmentalists and scientists are alarming. They point at irresponsible garbage disposal by beach-goers or those living in coastal areas, with one study suggesting that nearly every seabird may be eating plastic by 2050.
It is common to see people dumping plastic bags and empty bottles on beaches after the weekend parties. Similarly, sometimes the careless fishermen leave their torn nets at the beaches. They do not understand the gravity of their negligence. To humans, plastic products are items of comfort, if not necessity. But to marine animals, they are like a floating minefield.
Plastic materials or drifting fish nets pose a threat to the sea creatures. For a sea turtle, a floating plastic bag looks like a jellyfish. Other plastic products become like plastic pellets when they mix with water.
The small hard pieces of plastic, from which plastic products are made, look like fish eggs for seabirds. On the other hand, fish and mammals get entangled in drifting nets, making it difficult, if not impossible, to wriggle out. As our consumption of plastic mounts, so too does the danger to marine life.
According to a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity study published in 2012, “more than 600 species, from micro-organisms to whales, are affected by plastic waste in the oceans, mainly by ingestion but sometimes by getting entangled in larger debris like old fishing nets.”
Although Omani authorities are alert on environmental issues, it is impossible, however, for any authority to keep the beaches plastic waste-free unless all stakeholders take an active part to address the issue.
The hospitality operators need to play a proactive role because they majorly benefit from the beaches, as most of their guests love to use them.
The beach visitors sometimes leave behind bits of plastic debris, bottle caps, toys, cigarette lighters, fishing lines and other garbage.
It would be wise on the part of hotels to offer their guests some handy trash bags as a token of reminder that beaches and marine species are valuable to them and the country.
Tour operators are equally responsible in keeping the beaches clean by instructing the tour guides to take responsibility to remove all kinds of garbage before leaving the beaches along with their guests.
Awareness among the local people is equally important. There should be regular awareness campaigns to reduce use of disposable plastic products, and reuse and recycle as much as possible.
The practice of using reusable grocery bags to cut down on plastic bag consumption and convincing others about the dangers of marine debris can be hugely beneficial in saving the marine creatures.