In 2012 and 2014, the Department of Mineral Resources granted three prospecting rights for marine phosphate covering approximately 10% of South Africa’s exclusive economic zone. In response to concerns that unsustainable bulk marine sediment mining will soon be authorised in South Africa, a group of organisations formed the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition. Since 2015 the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition, of which the International Ocean Institute – Southern Africa is a member, has been pursuing a moratorium on bulk marine sediment mining in South Africa.
Tiny particles of plastic have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These microbeads, hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads and that is the main reason why, ultimately, they contribute to the Plastic Soup swirling around the world’s oceans. Sea creatures absorb or eat microbeads. These microbeads are passed along the marine food chain. Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing microbeads from the food we eat. Microbeads are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove.
Positive action on behalf of manufacturers has meant that more and more of these microbeads are being removed from personal care products and replaced by naturally biodegradable alternatives. The International Ocean Institute – Southern Africa is committed to creating awareness around this issue and working towards a ban of microbeads in personal care products in South Africa.