MARINE DEBRIS CLEAN-UP PROGRAM
ACHIEVMENT AT A GLANCE-
During the recent hit of cyclone in South India, within a single day about 25 tons of plastic wastes along with the waste water from the cities reached the sea via estuaries and the beaches littered with plastic debris were alarming. The plastic that reached sea gradually settled on the seabed and cornered in rocky reefs. Also during our seabed studies FML documented many number of marine debris pockets throughout our regional sea which threatens marine life and ocean health. In this context, Friends of Marine Life (FML) and Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries (University of Kerala) jointly organized ‘Our Ocean Our Future’ a Marine Debris Clean-up Program on 11th of January 2018, an initiative to raise Ocean literacy among the community and brought to the shore 71 Kg of debris and sorted out and handed over Trivandrum Corporation to process. The similar clean-up drive was also conducted at Enayam, Tamilnadu.
Based on the pilot study on the affected seabed, the ten member SCUBA diving team of FML developed appropriate tools and methodology for the cleanup drive. Besides, we also studied the micro-plastic content in the seabed which was also alarming. The underwater visual documentation was also done on the cleanup drive. It need documenting the seabed ecosystems in regular intervals with the co-operation of fisher folk and joins hand together for conserving our ocean for our future.
- Identification of plastic pockets in the sea is difficult which can only be done with the help of free diving fishermen as they everyday see the underwater changes.
- As an emerging conservation team, we are not able to hold our own diving equipments, so lack of diving equipments was the another challenge we have gone though.
- As this is the first community oriented initiative to remove marine debris we had no model in front of us to adopt the methodologies and tools. So we had had to develop our own tools and methodology to remove and dispose it.
- The diversity in the ghost nets and the nature of entanglement in different seabed ecosystems were really challenging as we were compelled to conduct pilot study at each ghost net pockets followed by actual removal drives.
- The lack of proper recycling plants or processing facilities under local government bodies is still being a real challenge.
- In the first ever National Conference on Marine Debris (COMAD) organized by the Marine Biological Association of India (MBAI), FML participated and put forwarded strong suggestions and recommendations highlighting the ghost net issues and now we are trying to earn the attention of the concerned authorities to sort out and solve the problems.
- The regular monitoring of marine debris pockets and above all the implementation of preventive measures to check the entry of plastic in to the marine system.
- Preparation of short documentaries on marine debris and its removal activities and thus disseminating the issue and through which attract more people towards marine conservation activities.
- Raise awareness among the fishermen those who use PET bottles as Fish aggregating device and to gradually bring down the trend.