Land, freshwater species in Asia-Pacific impacted by plastic pollution: UN Study

Source: This post is based on the article Land, freshwater species in Asia-Pacific impacted by plastic pollution: “UN Study” published in Down to Earth on 1st September 2021.

What is the news?

Recently, a study titled Impacts of Plastic Pollution on Freshwater Aquatic, Terrestrial and Avian Migratory Species in the Asia and Pacific Region” was conducted by CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) secretariat.

The study looked at species in the Ganga and Mekong basins that together contributed an estimated 200,000 tonnes of plastic pollution to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean every year.

Findings of the study
  • Both Ganges and Irrawaddy dolphin species faced threats due to entanglement in plastic waste such as fishing nets and lines. This could prevent them from coming up to the surface to breathe and thus, drown them.
  • The dugong or sea cow also faced threats of entanglement in plastic gear as well as ingestion of plastic.
  • Migratory birds such as the Black-faced Spoonbill and the Osprey had been observed making nests out of plastics, using fishing lines and shipping debris, often resulting in the entanglement of their chicks.
  • Terrestrial and avian species in addition to freshwater ones had been reported getting entangled in discarded fishing gear as well as kite strings in the Mekong basin.
  • Protected under CMS since the 13th Conference of the Parties in 2020, the Asian Elephant has been observed scavenging on rubbish dumps in Sri Lanka and ingesting plastic in Thailand.
  • The study highlighted that the problem of plastic pollution is only going to get worse. Some 53 million tonnes of plastic could enter aquatic systems annually by 2030, which could eventually increase to 90 million tonnes.
Recommendations

The report calls for

  • More effective waste management
  • Recycling
  • Design of products
  • Preventing plastic pollution at the source.

It also cites the need for increased research efforts to understand the negative effects of plastic pollution on organisms and ecosystems, particularly on terrestrial species that have been poorly studied.

Terms to know:

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