This research was funded by the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Awards program 8379-IN (K.A.O) and The National Geographic Society NGS-55326E-19 (K.A.O. and J.D.S).
Micro-plastics, Environmental conditions, Coastal ecology -- India
This article includes a review of the literature on marine debris in an Indian context and introduces a replicable, scientific, and inexpensive collection method to build capacity and inform policymakers. We share baseline data resulting from ten cleanups using these methods in India. This method was introduced in a 2019 workshop to train Indian researchers, leading to local-led collections in three states and two Union Territories (8 beaches, 2 riversides) yielding 33,474 individual pieces of debris weighing a total of 599.15 kg. Plastic was the most frequently found material at all ten collection sites, comprising from 45% to 89% of all items found. The research establishes a baseline data collection at ten locations, with debris density at sites ranging from 0.38–3.86 items/m2. Application of the Clean Coast Index yields resulting rankings of moderate (1 site), dirty (2 sites), and extremely dirty (7 sites). Researchers also identified 2461 brands in analysis at six sites, 76% of which were Indian in origin. Replication of the methods in other Indian regions among the community of thirty-three practitioners was below target for collection (41%) and brand audit (8.3%) with 25% of teams sharing data with the community of practitioners and 12.5% sharing results with local policymakers. The analysis indicates debris is overwhelmingly composed of plastic from residential activities. The methods empower practitioners to collect and report on debris, ground-truthing global debris estimates, and illuminating the missing plastic problem.
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Owens, K.A.; Divakaran Sarasamma, J.; Conlon, K.; Kiruba, S.; Biju, A.; Vijay, N.; Subramanian, M.; Asok Vijayamma, S.; Jayadev, A.; Hoon, V.; et al. Empowering Local Practitioners to Collect and Report on Anthropogenic Riverine and Marine Debris Using Inexpensive Methods in India. Sustainability 2022, 14, 1928. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031928