by: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
In its 2011 Year Book, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has highlighted the key emerging issues of phosphorous pollution from fertilizer and plastic debris in the ocean.
The 2011 Year Book was released in advance of UNEP's 26th Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, convening from 21-24 February 2011. According to the publication, significant amounts of phosphorus fertilizer are being discharged to oceans as a result of food production, specifically farming inefficiencies and a failure to recycle wastewater. Phosphorus pollution is linked with a rise in algal blooms, impacting water quality, poisoning fish stocks and undermining tourism.
The Year Book also states that billions of pieces of plastic, both large and small, are threatening the health of the global marine environment. The plastic is broken down by the ocean into small fragments, and the debris may absorb and transport toxic chemicals, which are linked to cancer. As the toxins end up in the food chain, they cause potential harm to ecosystem and human health, including by affecting the reproductive processes of humans and wildlife.