DTE Call For Action: How to combat the threat of marine litter

We can protect the marine ecosystem if we know the extent and sources of marine litter

By Joel Michael
Published: Friday 18 August 2023

The waste that we are unable to manage, escapes our formal systems. It finds its way through stormwater drainage or sewer canals, to small and big rivers and eventually ends up on the ocean bed.

In other words, the ocean is currently being treated as a global dumpyard. We can protect this marine ecosystem if we know the extent and sources of marine litter.

In the Indian scenario, nine states make up the country’s 7,500 kilometres of coastline and are home to 250 million people.

India’s position on the global map is also quite strategic as it lies between the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca, which basically connects one ocean to another. This is a prominent shipping lane and India absorbs about 200,000 ship movements every year.

About 5.6 million tonnes of garbage makes its way into South Asian seas annually. This is a big contributor to the overall marine litter problem.

India has about four million fishermen. The most dangerous among various types of fishing gear is the ghostnet. It is used for catching fish. India also happens to be the second-largest fish-producing country globally. The Indian fishing community has an estimated 174,000 fishing gears. Of this, they recovered about 58,000 kilograms of ghostnets in 2021.

The most common victim of this waste are sea turtles. In our oceans, for every kilometre of coastline, the extent of marine litter is one metric tonne of waste to the ocean bed.

These numbers basically give us all the reasons to pay immediate attention to this emerging global threat. Otherwise, there could be some catastrophic consequences going forward.

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