The Rise in Plastic Usage, a Villain to the Threat of Marine Life

Plastic Pollution in India: Causes, Consequences, Challenges & Solutions -  IAS EXPRESS
Image credit – IAS Express

Huge marine animals are highly at risk of plastic entanglement. Certain products made of plastic such as fishing rods, nets, ropes, pots, etc. are often left abandoned on the marine banks, which in turn are taken away by the waves deep inside the sea. This threatens marine life as a whole. Whales and the megafauna of the ocean are highly vulnerable to plastic and die easily. As human lives are being advanced, the dependence on plastic has also risen, they, in turn, forget to dispose of it properly after usage. This leads to deterioration of the marine life on a very large scale. Consumption of fish living in these unhygienic conditions will result in a risk to human lives too.

Ghost gear entanglement is common these days. This arises when any lost, discarded, or abandoned fishing gear continues to trap animals, killing them and creating risk to the entire marine life. This is also one of the greatest hazards to navigation. An estimated range of 300,00 porpoises, whales, and dolphins die every year from this process. It is important to know that marine life is not all about fish but also about various other flora and fauna comprise. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for food, consumption of which makes them feel full but slowly kills them from the inside. This occurs as plastic bags give an image of jellyfish to the turtles which are consumed by them.

Sea birds consume plastics on the water’s surface as food mistaking them for small fragments of fish. These pieces of plastic when ingested can result in starvation or suffocation. Plastic debris is also a significant component that kills marine life. Fishes often mistake plastic pieces for pellets for food. Apex Predators are the species of marine animals found on top of the food chain such as the white sharks and orcas often a threat to marine life yet understudied

                 Ways to reduce plastic pollution in the marine world

Image credit – Earth Reminder

The most effective way to solve a problem is to focus on uprooting it from the source, believes FFI (Fauna and Flora International). Ways to reduce plastic can be adopted such as reducing the toxin levels in plastic components and converting plastic into reduced, reused, and recyclable components. Eco-friendly products can be used which doesn’t harm the flora or fauna. FFI already has notable success in tackling direct sources of damaging microplastics. In 2016, it has collaborated with NGOs and Government agencies to secure the ban on microbeads in various rinse-off cosmetic products. They are also working on policies to eliminate pellet loss from global supply chains both on land and in the sea. 

In conclusion, plastics cannot be eliminated as a whole. It is used on a large scale on a day-to-day basis with clear knowledge of its aftereffects. Consuming fish that eat plastics can result in the consumption of microplastics in humans, which results in loosing of many species.

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