New Report Calls for Urgent Action to Tackle Marine Pollution, A Growing Threat to the Caribbean Sea

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2019 – A New World Bank report released today examines how marine pollution in the Caribbean threatens the region’s resilience to climate change. The report calls for urgent actions to restore damaged ecosystems and protect the Caribbean’s marine resources, a key source of food, livelihoods and jobs to millions of people dependent on tourism, fisheries and the ocean economy.

“The Caribbean Sea is a lifeline for millions of people. Concerted action is crucial to halt and reverse marine degradation in the Caribbean,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “Effective management of plastics, solid waste, and wastewater are our top priorities to create a blue legacy for future generations”.

The report “Marine Pollution in the Caribbean: Not a Minute to Waste[1]”, published ahead of World Oceans Day, identifies the key sources of marine pollution and the impact on the wider Caribbean. It also lays out an action plan to reverse this threat and transition towards a more sustainable “Blue Economy” that can generate growth and build resilience while preserving ocean resources.

Marine ecosystems provide food and jobs to more than 35 distinct economies in the region through tourism, fisheries, shipping and ports. Yet, marine pollution including plastics, sewage, agriculture runoff, oil and chemicals, poses a serious threat, particularly to tourism which accounts for 15 percent of the region’s GDP and to fisheries which provide income and food security to poor communities in the region. Thousands of plastic shards can often be found in the wider Caribbean waters, representing nearly 80 percent of the total litter.

According to the report, more than 320,000 tons of plastic waste remains uncollected each year in the Caribbean. Coral reef degradation is also strongly linked to marine pollution and represents an estimated annual revenue loss of between US$ 350 million and US$ 870 million. 

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