Marine Pollution - Global Environmental Issues and Control Measures

Pollution of oceans is damaging the marine environment and is becoming a major problem. Marine environment is interesting for various reasons such as Sea food; Navigation; Adventure; Tourism etc,, Marine Pollution is harmful and its danger can be identified in a variety of ways. 

Marine Pollution - Global Environmental Issues and Control Measures

Sources & causes of marine pollution

Marine pollution originates from one of two sources --- the land or the sea which are explained below:

Marine Oil Pollution: Oil is basically an important pollutant which destroys marine environment. The various sources of oil pollution are:
Run-off oil from streets; disposal of lubricants from machines; Off shore oil and gas exploitation from off-shore drilling; blowouts at off-shore drilling rigs; oil escaping under high pressure from a bore hole in the ocean floor. Waste chemicals, mud and accumulation of toxic substances in the ocean in theform of mercury, dioxin, PCBs, PAHs (Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons), Radioactivity. benzene; xylene (colorless, flammable liquids) and heavy metals such as lead; copper; nickel, mercury also cause for marine pollution during the off shore drilling activities. Both dumping and exploitation of ocean resources cause ocean pollution also. 

PAHs: It is a chemical compound and organic pollutant. These occur in oil, coal and tar deposits and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning. PAHs are lipophilic meaning they mix more easily in oil than water.

Eg for PAHs are: Acenaphthene; Anthracene; Benzopyrene; Chrysene; Coronene; Fluorene; Pyrene.

Other sources from land: The major sources of marine pollution originating from the land vary from country to country. Effluents are discharged either directly into the sea or enters the coastal waters through rivers. Thousands of barrels of oil burn when oil wells were set on fire. Tanker accidents on land carry oil to the nearby streams / canals and cause for marine Pollution. Due to burning of oil, smoke, SO2, NO2, CO is added towards atmospheric contamination.

The effects of oil pollution depend mainly on the following factors

Type of oil and its viscosity, amount / quantity released, distance covered, time, average water
temp etc.

Effects of Marine Pollution





Sewage & run- off from forestry;

Depletes oxygen in water causes killing of fishes.


Sediments from mining

Sediments clog in the gills of fishes


Sewage from municipalities, towns; cities etc…

Contaminate sea food


Industrial discharge; pesticides from farms

Cause disease in coastal marine life


Oil from off shore drilling; industries/ automobiles

Low level contamination kills larvae whereas high level contamination causes death for sea fishes


Litter (rubbish), waste, plastics

Marine life disturbs


Hot water from power plants

Kills corals.

Marine Pollution Abatement / Prevention & control measures of Marine pollution

The following are the some of the control measures for marine pollution:
1. Improving existing sewage disposal facilities
2. Ensuring individual houses have sewage disposal systems (such as septic tanks).
3. Large resorts should use and manage their own packaged treatment plants.
4. Marine planning and management should be considered as processes such as land – sea interaction; inter disciplinary co-operation; participation of public & private sector organizations; balance between protection and development public participation.
5. Oil tankers are double hulled ( two layered bottom ) to reduce the chance of oil leakage
6. Recycling facilities for used oil.

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