Coastal waters still a sump of plastic debris | Chennai News

CHENNAI: The southwest monsoon may have saved the Indian coast from plastic pollutants released by the cargo ship that partially sank off the Sri Lankan coast, but the ocean waters of the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean are already a sump of plastic debris.
A significant part of this pollution comes from merchant ships, pleasure craft, research vessels, Navy vessels and fishing vessels.
The changing monsoon winds ensure that this plastic waste, which does not disintegrate for years, continues to wash up along the coast of Tamil Nadu.
Although the dumping of waste from ships has been banned since 1988, researchers said the illegal dumping still contributed to plastic debris. The state’s coast is vulnerable as shipping lines are closing in. “Almost 90% of the plastic debris that pollutes the ocean comes from ocean sources. Merchant ships dump cargoes, sewage, medical kits, plastic bottles, carrier bags and more into the ocean. other waste containing plastic, “says a document prepared by the Indian Coast Guard in 2017.
Manoj Joy, a former sailor, said that “all kinds of ships were dumping garbage years ago. Today the regulations have become stricter. The ships and sailors of established shipping companies do not throw plastic waste and sewage into the sea. But there are offenders. . Fishing boats are also dumping plastic. ”
Studies have estimated that between 0.47 and 2.75 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans per year, of which around 15-20% enters the Indian Ocean.
While 35% of plastics sink and settle on the seabed, most of it floats and is transported long distances due to the influence of winds, currents and waves.
The most abundant are the plastic used to make packaging, bags, containers, bottles for soft drinks, water, mouthwash, shampoo, mask, household appliances, electronic products.
Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi of the University of Western Australia, in her report on the trajectory of pollutants released by X-Press Pearl, said pollutants like the plastic nurdles that started to drift south of Sri Lanka could be transported west to reach India, Somalia and the Maldives when the wind reverses during the northeast monsoon.
A pre-print study titled “Plastics in the Indian Oceansources, destiny, distribution and impacts” by researchers from India, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom observed that during the southwest monsoon , the flow in the northern Indian Ocean goes from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. During the northeast monsoon, the flow goes from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. “This net eastward transport, combined with the eddies (circular water current) in the Bay of Bengal and potentially trapping plastics, results in the presence of plastics in the Bay of Bengal throughout the year.”
MV Ramana Murthy, director of the National Center for Coastal Research, said: “So far we have not analyzed the waste from the ships. Access to information and data on wastes dumped at sea for such studies is difficult as these vessels continue to move throughout the year, ”he said.

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