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Plastic Pollution From Fishing Nets Threatening Ganges Wildlife, Study Finds

According to experts, the Ganges River supports some of the world’s largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife

Plastic Pollution From Fishing Nets Threatening Ganges Wildlife, Study Finds
Highlights
  • There is no system for fishers to recycle their nets: Expert
  • Entanglement due to fishing net injure and kill marine animals: Expert
  • Plastic pollution in the Ganges river is harming its eco-system

New Delhi: Plastic pollution from discarded fishing gear in the Ganges River poses a threat to wildlife such as the critically endangered three-striped roofed turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin, according to an international team including researchers from the Wildlife Institute of India. In the study, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, surveys along the length of the river, from the mouth in Bangladesh to the Himalayas in India, show levels of waste fishing gear are highest near to the sea.

Also Read: Ganga Rejuvenation A Continuous Task, Needs Public Participation: Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

The researchers noted that fishing nets — all made of plastic — were the most common type of gear found. Interviews with local fishers showed high rates of fishing equipment being discarded in the river — driven by short gear lifespans and lack of appropriate disposal systems, they said.

The Ganges River supports some of the world’s largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife. Ingesting plastic can harm wildlife, but our threat assessment focussed on entanglement, which is known to injure and kill a wide range of marine species, said Sarah Nelms from the University of Exeter in the UK.

The researchers used a list of 21 river species of “conservation concern” identified by the Wildlife Institute of India in Uttarakhand. They combined existing information on entanglements of similar species worldwide with the new data on levels of waste fishing gear in the Ganges to estimate which species are most at risk.

There is no system for fishers to recycle their nets. Most fishers told us they mend and repurpose nets if they can, but if they can’t do that the nets are often discarded in the river. Many held the view that the river ‘cleans it away’, so one useful step would be to raise awareness of the real environmental impacts, said Ms. Nelms.

The findings offer hope for solutions based on “circular economy” where waste is dramatically reduced by reusing materials, according to Professor Heather Koldewey, from the Zoological Society of London(ZSL). “A high proportion of the fishing gear we found was made of nylon 6, which is valuable and can be used to make products including carpets and clothing,” Ms. Koldeway said. “Collection and recycling of nylon 6 has strong potential as a solution because it would cut plastic pollution and provide an income,” she added.

Also Read: No Meaningful Action Taken For Cleaning Ganga Tributary: National Green Tribunal

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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