The rise in ocean pollution is a massive threat to the fishing industry, this emerged at the Pan – African Marine Waste Conference currently underway in Port Elizabeth.

This is of great concern to the many African countries that are heavily reliant on the ocean.

In Mozambique 80% cent of the work force is employed in the fishing industry and it is the biggest generator of direct jobs.

Ocean pollution is crippling communities and economic growth of countries who rely heavily on fishing for an income.

Pippa Howard a scientist from Mozambique says, “If there is a loss of productivity of the fisheries that will certainly impact the local communities and there will be a knock effect on their food security.”

Experts believe that plastic waste-policies are the answer.

Abou Bamba from the United Nations Environment and Abidjan convention says: “We know that more than 50% of the youngsters in Africa are unemployed and some people will say why are you trying to create jobs through plastic industry and we as environmentalists are blocking that, but my stance is that we can still use plastic as long as it’s bio-degradable and through that we can create jobs.”

In South Africa over three hundred million kilograms of fish are consumed each year.

Catches around the world are affected in some way or another.

Julius Francis from the Western Indian Ocean Marine science in Nairobi says: “Some of the Tunas do contain some mercury, but quite very low levels so tuna continues to be exported from the region. The same in the lakes there has been some concerns about big lakes and the export of fish that it contains some of the pollutants.”

There remain fears that Africa may soon become as heavily polluted as Southeast Asia, which is considered the most polluted region in the world.

Experts say Africa is approaching a crisis situation which needs to be addressed in the immediately.

– By Jayed-leigh Paulse