Mediterranean Sea Pollution Essay
Mediterranean Sea Pollution
Do you know that regions around the Mediterranean Sea are most preferred by tourists than any other region in the world? Mediterranean is one of the outstanding regions in the world that is geographically rich in biodiversity. Twenty percent of the world’s marine species inhibit this region. Endangered species such as loggerhead, green turtle, monk seal and several other cetacean species live in the waters of Mediterranean Sea. This region therefore forms a major tourist attraction site. Like any other water body Mediterranean Sea is prone to pollution (WWF, par 1).
This research paper therefore will explore the impacts of sea pollution on Hotels, Leisure, Tourism and Travel (HLTT) and on the other hand the impacts of HLTT on environment. Background Information To better understand the impacts of sea pollution on HLTT and HLTT impacts to the environment, it is important to have background information on Mediterranean Sea and tourism. Mediterranean Sea is widely known for its, beautiful coastline, pleasant climate, diverse culture and rich history. The tourists have every reason to be attracted to this region.
Many Mediterranean countries have tourism as their major income source. It is thus of a great economic significance. However it plays a major role in marine environmental degradation (GreenPeace, par 7-8). The region around the Mediterranean Sea is a world’s leading tourist destination especially in the areas around the coast that contribute 30% of the world’s international tourists during the summer season (WWF, par 2). Most of the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea is urban and this has greatly supported the tourism industries (WWF, par 3).
Studies carried out in 1999 showed that Mediterranean region received approximately 219. 6 million international tourists with the exclusion of domestic tourists. By the year 2020 the number is predicted to rise to 350 million. The tourists come from different parts of the world although Europe provides the largest numbers especially from Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France (WWF, par 4). Of the international tourism income, Mediterranean receives a third of the income. It is thus a region of international concern especially in regard to sea water pollution (WWF, par 5).
Tourism is no doubt the world’s largest industry. Though the environments in which tourism occurs are very rich in biodiversity, they are very fragile and can easily be affected by a small change. With the increased human activities, these ecosystems are prone to pollution. Pollution leads to the destruction and loss of biodiversity thus affecting greatly the tourism industry. However, tourists who flock the region in great numbers are not without blood stains and have contributed to a large proportion on the Mediterranean Sea pollution (WWF, par 2).
Tourism impacts in Mediterranean Mass tourism that has been flocking the Sicily Island in the Mediterranean Sea is of a threat to the environment. There has been an inappropriate development to cater for mass tourism. The development models are based on quantity rather than on quality. The growth of tourism industry has continuously damaged landscapes, put pressure on the endangered species, caused soil erosion, and put a strain on the available water resources. Dangerously, increased tourist numbers has lead to an increase in waste (WWF, par 6). Impact of tourism on Land
As a result of constructions for tourism developments such as airports, vacation homes, roads and hotels, fragile marine and coastal ecosystems in Mediterranean region have been negatively affected. The once beautiful natural sceneries such as forests have been cleared to pave way for hotels, vacation homes alongside infrastructural facilities to cater for the tourists. As WWF puts it in their article on Tourism Threats in the Mediterranean “Loss of biodiversity and landscape attractiveness already affects a number of tourist destinations throughout the region” (WWF, par 7).
Coastal ecosystems have already been damaged by the intensive tourism developments along the coastal fringes. For instance, a three-quarter of sand dunes along the coastline of Mediterranean, that is, from Sicily to Spain are no more because of the urbanisation that is linked to the tourism developments. 43% of Italy’s coastline has been completely urbanised to pave way for tourism. More so 23% is urbanised but partially and only 29% has not been constructed in the name of tourism development. Additionally, only 6 stretches of a 20-km coast have not been constructed (WWF, par 8).
Major developments such as setting up of infrastructure for the overflowing number of tourists has resulted to overcrowding leading to soil erosion along Mediterranean coasts (GreenPeace, par 9). The Species affected Tourism is a major contributor to natural habitat loss affecting the rare and the endangered species. In the Mediterranean, more than 500 species of plants are under threat of extinction due to intense tourism pressure in overbuilt destinations. The famous sea turtles no longer have nesting grounds along the Mediterranean Sicily coastline as a result of tourism developments (WWF, par 9).
The endangered monk sea of the Mediterranean in Sicily has lost their habitat to tourism constructions. Monk Seals needs caves as well as beach habitats that are suitable for breeding. Areas that have been fully exploited by tourism industry have completely destroyed these habitats and the sea monks cannot get breeding grounds. As WWF in their article on Tourism Threats In The Mediterranean laments “Already the impact of tourism has played a major role in the decline and extinction of the Mediterranean monk seal populations…Without dramatic changes, the current tourism pressure will likely drive the species to extinction” (WWF, par 10).
Fresh Water Some of the Mediterranean Islands such as Sicily have already begun to experience the effects of sea pollution. During summer, large water supplies are pumped to tourist hotels, golf courses as well as in the swimming pools. Tourists use a lot of water draining the available water resources. For instance, the average amount of water that a Spanish city dweller can use is about 250 litres in a single day while a tourist will use about 440 litres. In tourist hotels with golf courses and swimming pools, 880 litres of water is used by one person.
(WWF,par 11). The great number of tourists who visit Sicily Island during summer put a heavy strain on the water resources. This leads to overexploitation of ground water raising the salt levels in the water. The salty water is used for irrigation increasing agricultural lands’ salinity hence reduced productivity. In very serious cases, the land is damaged beyond repair such that it cannot support agricultural crops. All this mess has been brought about by the flocking tourists (Stefano, 2004, p. 5).
As Stefano puts it in his essay “Fresh Water and Tourism in the Mediterranean “Most Mediterranean coastal aquifers suffer from over-exploitation due to the concentration of agriculture and tourism” (Stefano 2004, p. 5). The growth of the tourism industry has lead to the need for alternative water sources. Numerous dams have been constructed in response to the great water demand. Despite the fact that these dams have played a major role in fighting water shortage, they have brought adverse effects to the environment. They reduce river speed provoking stagnation of water.
This causes pollution in the rivers that eventually drain into Mediterranean Sea and since the water is polluted, it affects aquatic life such as fish species. Most of them die as a result of harmful chemicals or migrate to other regions (Stefano 2004, p. 6). Pollution and wastes Mediterranean is at a very great risk of the urban and industrial wastes that are dumped to it every year. 10 billion tonnes of both industrial and urban wastes that have little or no purification are pumped into the seal every year. Solid wastes as well as waste water from tourist’s homes normally exceed local infrastructures’ carrying capacity.
This water pollution however affects the quality of water especially for drinking as well as in tourist beaches. This can be hazardous to human health and can lead to water borne diseases such as cholera even to the visiting tourists. WWF comments that “tourism contributes to all forms of pollution (water, waste and atmosphere) and is adversely affected by the impact of pollution on the natural resources they rely upon” (WWF, par 13). Hotels that are located near Mediterranean coast usually do not have connection to the sewage system.
All the wastes therefore are drained into the Sea untreated leading to pollution that not only threatens aquatic life but also that of humanity (Stefano 2004, p. 7). The polluted rivers of the Mediterranean region in combination to poorly treated or rather untreated waste affect sea water quality that is fed by fresh water sources. Stefano points out that “tourism contributes to 7% of all pollution in the Mediterranean Sea” (Stefano, 2004, p. 8). These wastes include sewage, crude oil, detergents, urban wastes among others (Stefano 2004, p. 8).
Impacts on social-cultural contexts The fact that tourism is beneficial to Sicily and other Mediterranean regions will not be disputed but it should be known that tourism causes disturbances to a people’s way of life in the social-cultural contexts. The traditional practices that form a pillar for sustainability and conservation of biodiversity are adversely affected by tourism. The income from tourism is however directed out of the country instead of being used to support the livelihoods of the community whose resources have been exploited.
Furthermore, local people compete with tourism for limited resources such as water and sanitation (WWF, par 14). Impacts of sea pollution on HLTT Most of the waters of the Mediterranean suffer from pollution and hence water that is used in tourist hotels is dug from underground. Due to the great numbers of tourists who flock the region, a lot of water is needed in theses hotels leading to over-exploitation of ground water. This exploitation occurs when volume of the abstracted water from the ground exceeds annual ground water renewal. This decreases the water table negatively affecting wetlands (Stefano 2004, p.5).
The overexploitation of groundwater in the coastal region of Mediterranean alters the equilibrium between sea water and fresh water in groundwater. This in turn triggers the saline water to intrude into the fresh water. Salt level of the groundwater increases, reducing the quality of drinking water that is used in tourist hotels and their swimming pools. This water requires treatment before use. This does not auger so well with the tourist hotels that want to make maximum profits. A lot of the income got from the tourists is spent in water treatment or alternative water sources (Stefano 2004, p. 5).
Solid waste leakage also causes water pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. The systems that dispose solid wastes are sometimes unable to take in the massive wastes and hence leak to water sources such as Mediterranean Sea. This pollutes the Sea water that has adverse effects to the tourism industry. As Stefano puts it in his essay on Fresh Water And Tourism In The Mediterranean, pollution of the Mediterranean Sea water “causes the decrease or even the disappearance of many terrestrial and aquatic species and also prevents local people and tourists enjoying bathing and other leisure activities” (Stefano 2004, p.
8). Polluted water has adverse effects especially to tourists who like swimming. Health problems associated with polluted swimming water include: throat, ear and nose infection, dysentery and hepatitis (Stefano, 2004, p. 8). More so, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals such as mercury, zinc, lead and cadmium from industrial effluents, domestic sewage and solid waste pose heath risks (GreenPeace, par 2). Mediterranean is one of the world’s most polluted seas. Numerous tonnes waste that is toxic from industries of Sicily find their way into the sea.
(GreenPeace, par1). The sea water is further polluted by oily waste from ships. The Mediterranean Sea receives 17% of the world’s water oil pollution. As GreenPeace in their article on Pollution and Tourism points out “every year between 100,000-150,000 tonnes of crude oil are deliberately released into the sea from shipping activities” (GreenPeace, par 5). Of the 370 million oil tonnes transported through the Mediterranean each year, 10% of it accidentally spills into the sea putting aquatic life in danger. Oil spills can cause a severe damage to the tourists’ attractions.
For instance when a freight ship that had been carrying 160, 000 diesel gallons and 80,000 petrol gallons capsized on San Cristobal coast, both land and marine species that are at the centre of tourist attraction were badly affected (Gdrc. org, par 1). Global Sea pollution All around the world, outcries have been heard about sea pollution. Oceans and seas have been pumped with tonnes and tonnes of human waste perhaps through land run-offs but to a great extent by deliberate actions. In fact 80% of global sea pollution comes from human activities.
Slowly by slowly, the sea waters are poisoned killing the aquatic life but no one dares do anything to save the poor creatures. YPTENC in an article on Sea Pollution laments that “It often takes human casualties to alert us to pollution” (YPTENC, par 2). For instance, as a result of sea pollution, many people died in Minimata Bay in Japan (YPTENC, par 2). Seas such as Bali are slowly being reduced to nothing out of man’s harmful activities. For instance, the Dead Sea is slowly dying out with salty water that has posed a threat to the fresh water and the landscape around the Dead Sea is bare with sun-baking (WN Network 2006, par 1).
The Gulf of Mexico is the most affected with pollution in North America. All the waters of Northern America drain into the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf receives magnificent pollution from gas and oil emitted from tourist recreational boats, jet skis as well as oil drilling rigs. Bali, Dead and Gulf of Mexico seas are major examples of seas that have faced extreme pollution by human activities such as oil spilling. They however have adverse effects to aquatic life that is the heart of the tourism industry. More so humans whether local or tourists are exposed to dangerous health conditions.
They are prone to water diseases such as dysentery (Earths. net, par. 17-18). Solutions The extensive pollution of Mediterranean Sea has raised a global concern. Actions need to be taken quickly before things get out of hand. A Mediterranean Action Plan was put forward in 1975 by United Nations to help rectify the situation. The action plan covers matters concerning most importantly dumping of wastes into the sea among other issues. Pollution monitoring programmes have been put across to regulate waste disposal by tourist hotels and other sectors (Saliba 1992, par 4-5).
However studies needs to be made to reduce the routine monitoring and increase the practical applications in industrial waste management. The beaches that are mostly used by tourists can only be safe if and only if pollution sources are completely removed through appropriate disposal of waste and waste water treatment (Saliba 1992, par 6). Other industries should reduce their pollution by using appropriate measures and laws should be put across regarding proper waste disposal by industries (Saliba 1992, par 7).
“Local authorities have mandated hotels that are located near the coastline to build treatment plants where the water will be treated first before it is drained into the Mediterranean Sea” (Stefano 2004, p. 7). Mediterranean Commission of Sustainable Development has taken tourism as its major priorities. Tourism has been recognized as the only instrument to protect and manage its exploits: the natural resources. All the waste that is produced by tourist homes and hotels should be treated accordingly before being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea.
Tourism income is however much and waste treatment will not cost a lot. When all is said and done Mediterranean Sea will be save from pollution and the tourism industry will be revived. The tourists will flock in even greater numbers when they know that they are protected (Saliot 2005, p. 12). Conclusion As much as the Mediterranean Sea pollution has had its adverse effects on tourism, tourism has also negatively affected the environment. Increased number of tourists has seen much of the land being stuffed with buildings.
Additionally lots of wastes from tourist hotels are dumped into the sea barely untreated threatening aquatic as well as human life. On the other hand, Sea Pollution from oil tankers and other industries contaminate the sea water that is used by tourists for drinking as well as swimming. It is therefore necessary to ensure that treatment is done to waste from whichever source to secure the sea water. 2750 words References Earths. net, It’s not so slick when oil ends up in the sea, Earths. net, viewed 15 July 2010 <http://www. water-pollution.net/>
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