Environmental “superstar” for marine waste conference


Sylvia Earle, described as an “environmental superstar,” has joined the speaker line-up for the inaugural African Marine Waste Conference to be held in Port Elizabeth from July 9-13.

Earle is a TED Prize winner, and a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence. She has 22 honorary degrees and more than a hundred national and international honours.

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, and first "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine, is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.

Her presence at the conference will “cast a global spotlight on the city and the scourge of marine waste in Africa,'' says Sustainable Seas Trust Director and conference convenor Tony Ribbink.

The conference aims to set the course for the development of a pan-African strategy to combat rampant marine pollution off Africa's coast.

"With 350 kilograms of plastic being dumped in the ocean every second, it is projected that there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050.

“This pollution is killing millions of marine animals and sea birds each year, damaging sensitive ecosystems, affecting environmental and human health. Aside from lost opportunities the cost to Africa runs in to billions annually,'' says Ribbink. In addition to Earle other notable participants include Ivory Coast's Abou Bamba, executive secretary of the Abidjan Convention, an intergovernmental coastal and marine conservation treaty, and US-based Nancy Wallace the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program the federal lead for researching, preventing, and reducing the impacts of marine debris in the United States.

Wallace, the chair of the United Nation’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter, and co-chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Marine Debris Working Group, will be joined by other internationals including Chris Wilcox a research scientist with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, stationed in Hobart, Tasmania; Dr Jenna Jambeck an associate professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, and the co-developer of the mobile app - Marine Debris Tracker; and Kristian Teleki, senior marine adviser to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and the Director of Engagement for Ocean Unite, among others.

Plenary speakers will be joined by over 30 break-away presenters sharing cutting edge research and innovation.

The Conference is hosted by the African Marine Waste Network, initiated by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST).

The Network is the first dedicated approach to address marine waste at a pan-African level.

"Africa is data poor on the matter of marine waste on both sea and land, and limited research as been done so far meaning that management and development of informed strategies is being impeded," says Ribbink.

It is anticipated that 400 delegates and visitors, including policy decision-makers and exhibiting organisation from across Africa, and wider, will participate and contribute towards the sought solutions for Africa's waste.

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