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UN Warns: Sewage Threatens Seas and Oceans; Human Health and Marine Life 'at Risk'

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Coastal populations and a rising tide of sewage are threatening the world’s seas and oceans. “The marine pollution is putting at risk human health and marine life,” a U.N. report issued from The Hague yesterday says.

The report stated than an estimated 80 percent of marine pollution originates from the land, and this number could rise significantly by 2050.

The report, prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), points out that the problem affects developing countries in particular because the struggle against pollution has such high costs.

The report titled “State of the Marine Environment” presented by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, says good progress has been achieved in three of nine “key criteria.”

Oil pollution is among these three areas.

The report says “worse” progress is being registered in four areas, and wastewater and marine litter are cited among these.

The rise is linked to nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—coming from sources such as agricultural fertilizer run off; manure; sewage and fossil fuel burning, and this can lead to wild and farmed fish kills; the degradation of sea grass beds and coral reefs and toxic algal blooms, the report states.

The report says levels of pollution differ from region to region. There is progress in the Northeast Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea, but concern remains in places including the Southeastern Pacific and the Caspian Sea, where an estimated 17 tones of mercury and nearly 150 tones of cadmium are discharged annually.

The average population density in the coastal zone will rise from 77 people per square kilometer in 1990 to 115 in 2025, the U.N. report says.

This shows that growth, in terms of more settlements, overuse of marine resources, pollution and damage and loss of ecosystems, is having a serious impact.

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