Research by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) has established the spread of marine litter along entire water column and sediment.
Scientists at the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) have observed high quantities of marine litter along entire water column and sediment along the Indian coasts and adjacent seas during monsoon. The litter arrives through creeks, rivers and estuaries by rainwater.
This finding follows initiating of monitoring of temporal and spatial distribution of marine litter along the Indian coasts and adjacent seas. Studies have been conducted covering nine coastal states, and union territories of Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
This information was provided by the minister of state for Earth Sciences and the ministry of science and technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
The minister said that several studies have been undertaken to map the litter which is an important component for a policy paper.
However, Dr Jitendra Singh said there is a dearth of data on marine litter sources, pathways, transport processes, and quantification of the amount of litter entering the marine environment.
During 2018, 2019, and 2021, the National Centre for Coastal Research has undertaken beach clean-up activities, awareness programmes, and beach litter quantification studies.
An array of litter
The studies on the effect of various beach activities on marine litter and microplastics distribution and characterization were also carried out at selected beaches along the southeast coast of India.
Micro-plastic studies in the coastal water and offshore sediment were carried out along the east coast of India to identify major plastic accumulation zones and the data has been published, Dr Singh said.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said that the waste found on the shores of the coastal states include plastic wastes, including single use of plastics bottles, food wrappers, cutlery items and polythene bags; fishing nets, glass (liquor bottles); rubber (footwear); clothes, including face masks and discards from religious activities, paper, metals and even diapers besides household materials.
He said that a framework for a clean ocean mission, the Swachhata Sagar has been prepared by the ministry of earth sciences. This mission will be part of the larger Swachhata Action Plan.
To understand the effect of different types of polymers (microplastics) on fisheries and biota, organisations attached to the ministry have undertaken research to estimate the level of contamination.