23 outubro 2021

Ocean Dumping and Social Responsibility

By: Milena Barbosa de Melo

Doctor and Master in International Law by the University of Coimbra – Portugal
Foreign Trade Analyst, Professor at the State University of Paraíba (UEPB) Academic Director of ANEDD, Developer of Online Educational Materials


Discussing the benefits of the marine environment for the development of society becomes repetitive, especially because of its natural wealth. However, considering the reality of the beaches in Brazil, it is worth noting that the marine environment, beyond its benefits to human health, enables the economic development of society.

The interest in exploring the coastal zones seems contradictory, since there is a mismatch between the need to explore them and the importance of caring for them. As the Federal Constitution establishes, natural resources are limited, and the current society must know how to take care, explore, and utilize the environment’s resources so that the future generation can have access to its benefits.

Nonetheless, despite this being a right established in the Constitution, the reality of several beaches on the Brazilian coast seems to be far away from the constitutional reality, since ocean dumping is quite frequent. The reality on these beaches, most of them urban, scares environmental protection specialists, since according to the BRK (2019), in 2017 alone about 5.622 Olympic pools of untreated sewage were thrown into the ocean.

Therefore, dumping sewage into the environment not only violates the Federal Constitution, but all the other Conventions and international agreements that manage environmental protection and especially, the marine environment.

Regarding the damages done, it is possible to identify three perspectives, namely, the environment, the local population, and society. Regarding the environment, sewage dumping on the beach is extremely harmful to the biodiversity, because it endangers the lives of animals, seaweed, and other marine species.

In certain situations, something that can happen is eutrophication, a decomposition process of the organic elements from the sewage that multiplies the superficial algae, which reduces solar light in the waters and subsequently, the level of oxygen in the ocean.

This can impact society thanks to the possible reduction of tourism, followed by a decrease in the local economy, as the absence of tourists results in less spending and less monetary gain for the local tradespeople. And when the population’s income decreases, the whole social and political system suffers, because it is necessary to spend public resources to help these people in a state of economic emergency.

Thus, it is evident that dumping sewage on the beach not only harms the constitutional device which deals with an ecologically balanced environment, but fundamentally, the quality of life, right to freedom and leisure, that is, the Human Rights established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Then, we highlight the responsibility of the public authority to reinforce what is shown in normative texts. And, if we conclude that it is a tool deserving of complement by another guideline, it is worth pointing out that the United Nations summons all their members to work hard on fulfilling the development goals, especially Goal 14, which denotes the importance of establishing measures to maintain and protect the usage and the resources of the oceans.

For this to happen, the population must be aware that it is up to every citizen to keep the beaches clean and in this fight, the most important thing is the union between society and public authorities.


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