Tourists biggest polluters of beaches, finds survey

Chennai

Plastics constitute 71% of waste on Indian shorelines, finds NCCR
A study on plastics in seven beaches in the country, including two in Tamil Nadu, has found that a large quantity of the waste was being brought in by tourists.

The National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) here found that fishing activity was the second reason for the presence of non-degradable materials in beaches.

Urban beaches
“In all, 71% of the waste we found was plastic, 28% non-plastic and 1% was biomedical in nature. The last being found mostly on urban beaches,” explained Pravakar Mishra, scientist, NCCR, whose team monitors the city’s beaches. Litter, including paper/plastic bags, balloons, beverage cans, cigarette stubs, food waste, paper, food packaging, glass bottles, sharp metallic objects, clothing, toys, and alcohol bottles were found on the beaches, he added.

On Elliot’s Beach, 40% was due to tourist activity, 15% due to fishing activity, 38% due to other activities and 7% of the garbage found was biomedical waste. At Silver Beach in Cuddalore, 50% of the trash was from tourism, 28% from fishing, 11% from households and 6% was biomedical waste.

The study found that use of beaches for purposes other than walking or playing in the sand or in the waters made the problem worse. Solid waste from waterways too added to the garbage on the beaches.

Awareness needed
Lack of solid waste management facilities was a major issue at several beaches, it said, adding that clean-up programmes alone would not be enough to keep the sands clean.

A continuous information, education and communication programme for tourists, residents and fisherfolk was a must to reduce plastic usage at beaches. Marine litter posed a major problem with aquatic animals ingesting microplastics. It also called for a national marine litter policy that can control and manage garbage on land and prevent its entry into the marine environment to maintain its pristine nature.

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