‘Higher the tide more the garbage ’

If you think the sea can swallow all the muck that you throw into it or on the beach, think again. You should not throw garbage into the sea. In the current season, it is especially important not to litter the beaches, said a city-based scientist.

Bindu Sulochanan, Scientist, Research Centre of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Mangalore, told The Hindu, “Awareness has to be created, it is not just the (responsibility of the) government, each person has to take responsibility”.

Visitors at beaches and fishermen, who make and vend fishing nets during the fishing holidays, must be more careful with disposing of garbage. With monsoons, more than half of Panambur beach gets submerged under water.

The rip currents begin and erosion is severe. The water reaches a longer way up the beach and goes back to the sea carrying with it all the trash it finds on the beach. When the calm current returns (the same day), it comes back with all the trash.

Fishermen are another section of people who should act. She said, “Only with fishermen we can retrieve trash… only through them it can be resolved”.

Yathish Baikampady, CEO, Panambur Beach Tourism Development Project, said, “Monsoon trash is a big nuisance… Now is the right time to clean the beaches.” In Panambur, the garbage is like a 40 ft road of up to one ft height. Higher the tide more the garbage, and it must be removed or else it leads to pollution. The sporadic rains now are a “trailer” to the real monsoon.

“We need volunteers. This is the time, not when everything is fine,” he said.

He said a large part of the garbage thrown into the sea comes through the rivers, is churned by the water and forms an island (called “palke” in Tulu), which becomes a shelter for leaves, dry forest waste and from where fishermen go and catch fish. Later, some garbage gets back to the beach.

A study titled “Marine litter in the coastal environment of Mangalore” by Bindu Sulochanan, G. S. Bhat and S. Lavanya, published in the “Marine Fisheries Information Service” journal, says, “Chitrapur has the highest rate of marine litter of nearly one kg per square metre or 901.5g/m2 to be exact, followed by Tannirbavi 689.85 g/m2 and Panambur 83.33 g/m2.”

The marine litter consisted of ice cream spoons, toothbrushes, bottle caps, plastic sachets, footwear, nylon ropes and thermocole.

Nylon ropes in fish belly

In Mangalore, an examination of the guts of oil sardine and mackerel revealed 1mm to 4mm-long nylon ropes. As sardines and mackerel feed on plankton, they could have accidentally ingested the ropes along with the plankton.

UNEP estimates the Central Pacific has 3 kg of marine litter for every kilogram of plankton. Off Mangalore, it estimated there is 0.00168 kg of plastic for every kg of plankton.

It said, “Marine litter is entirely due to human activity .”

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