The oceans will house more plastics than fish by 2050 with the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean from land each year exceeding 4.8 million tonne , according to V Kripa, principal scientist of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
Delivering a lead talk at the two-day National Conference on Marine Debris (COMAD) being held at the CMFRI, Kripa said 850 million metric tonne of plastics will be found in the ocean by 2050 whereas the ocean will have only 812 million metric tonne of fish by the time.
“Recent studies have shown that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tonne float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometre litter the deep sea”, said Kripa who is also the convenor of the conference.
She added that that the micro-plastics were posing a serious threat to the marine food webs. “In India, micro and macro plastics have been observed at all trophic levels starting from sardines to tunas and sea birds”, Kripa said.
Billions of pounds of plastics can be found in swirling convergences making up about 40 % of the world’s ocean surfaces,according to Vasudevan Rajagopalan, the ‘Plastic Man of India’.
The problem is not with plastic but poor garbage culture that is leading to accumulation of waste in land and water ecosystem, Vasudevan added.
“Plastic is no more meant to be a waste, but a fruitful resource for multiple developmental purposes if processed scientifically”, he said after inaugurating the COMAD. Dr Vasudevan, who received the Padma Shri award for converting plastic waste into tar for road construction, said plastic waste could be mixed with stones and bitumen for laying ‘plastic roads’ which, according to him last up to 15 years. “One lakh kilometres of plastic roads have been laid in India so far”, he added.
“Careless throwing away of plastics is creating problems which is leading to the degradation of resources both in the land and the ocean. If processed systematically, plastic could be made environmentally benefiting and energy saving resources”, Vasudevan said.