More than 40,000 water vehicles such as cruise ships, cargo vehicles, passenger ships, fishing boats and among others ply bodies of water daily. With it, tons of toxic wastes are produced that pose as threat to both marine and human lives as irresponsible ship owners and crew may discharge such wastes into the ocean indiscriminately or through damaged ship parts. Unless ship owners and the crew take full responsibility and exercise concern to nature, our seas and life in it as well as human life is largely imbued with the possibility of extinction.
Bilge water is predominantly composed of sea and fresh water, oil and sludge which are channeled temporarily into a depository tank called bilge wells. Since the bilge is located on the bottom part of the ship, all forms of liquid are moved by gravity to settle into it. Once it is filled-up to its maximum especially when the ship in the middle of the ocean, it is necessary to empty it otherwise the ship may sink. However, releasing such wastes into any bodies of water is illegal. Maritime authorities take colossal efforts in its implementation however there are instances of oil spillage that escape their scrutinizing eyes and fail to capture or reprimand the culprits.
What happens when oil or bilge water is spilled into the ocean surface and solidified oil components into the ocean floor? Oil spills block the sunlight from getting into the ocean floor where aquatic and marine plants grow. As sunlight is needed for the production of plant food, the absence of it produces failure of plants to procreate and reproduce to sustain fish and other marine life. Furthermore, when plants fail to multiply, oxygen production is also compromised thus depriving sea animals of oxygen as well as food.
Solidified oil or grease that settles into the ocean floor destroys corals and fish sanctuaries. Crawling animals as well as fishes are immobilized into the mud-like consistency of greases and left either to starve or be a source of food for enormous predators looming around.
Predatory and migratory birds that depend on fish for sustenance and dive into the water rise up from it with oil particles sticking into their feathers making flying an ominous effort. Some luckier birds are able to fly back and temporarily seek refuge on neighboring islands but a few unfortunate struggles into the ocean surface with lurking predators and eventually consumed or die until discovered by hungry animals.
Indeed the discharge of bilge water into the waters disrupts the cycle of food chain as well as cycle of life. Thus it is vital that every individual take part in the maintenance and balance of nature for a sustainable marine and human life. Bilge pumps, oil and water pipelines and valves of waste reservoirs must be periodically checked to avoid spillage of such hazardous wastes into the ocean. Furthermore, licensing of ships and its crew should be scrutinized by maritime authorities so that nobody is given any license unless they comply with certain regulatory protocols that will ensure the implementation of policies safeguarding bodies of water.