World Environment Day: Kerala fishermen are now catching plastic along with fishes from the sea

New Delhi: After three days of deep-sea fishing, Justin Fernandez in Kollam’s Neendakara, is back with the catch. He has brought back three bags full of garbage from the sea, along with sardines and mackerels.

Those at the sea are increasingly netting plastic, which has threatened the environment and is slowly killing the primary source of livelihood for fishermen.

“After Ockhi (cyclonic storm), we retrieved at least 400kg of ghost nets (abandoned nets). When the cyclone wreaked havoc, hundreds of boats and nets were destroyed. Once destroyed, these nets pose grave danger to marine creatures,” said Robert Panipilla, patron of an NGO, Friends of Marine Life to HT.

By 2050, all major oceans will have more plastic than fish, according to Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). Estimates based on the current figures of garbage dumping indicate 850 million tonne of plastic will be found in oceans by 2050. Whereas there will be only 821 million tonne of fishes.

“Microplastics are posing a serious threat to marine food chain. In seas around the Indian sub-continent, high levels of plastic were found in many varieties of fish such as tuna, sardine and sea birds,” Dr V Kripa, principal scientist with the CMFRI told to HT. She said recent studies have shown that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, adding that drastic measures were needed to stop the pollution.

State fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma said: “Fishing community, boat operators and people living along coastal areas have realised the importance of a clean sea. We will showcase the project in all major ports of the state soon.”