How is fishing gear damaging precious ecosystems in Sri Lanka and India?

Discarded fishing gear is endangering wildlife in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Gulf between India and Sri Lanka, and researchers are now talking to fishermen to find out what can be done.

There are believed to be more than 4,000 species (including corals, seagrasses, mangroves and reef fish) in this 12,000 square kilometer protected area, located between the northwest and north coasts of Sri Lanka and the southeast coast of India.

Marine litter from fisheries poses a major threat to marine environments in the Gulf of Mannar and the southern part of Palk Bay, and is expected to become more so, says Hafsa Jameel, program manager at the Lanka Environment Trust.

“Abandoned, lost and abandoned fishing gear, or ALDFG, is an ongoing problem for a country that relies on coastal fisheries for its protein and seafood industry,” they say, adding that there are important breeding and fishing areas for species including sea turtles and dugongs.

The researchers collected and analyzed marine litter from 12 sites in India and five sites in Sri Lanka, in addition to interviewing 343 Indian and 125 Sri Lankan fishermen in the region to understand their perceptions of marine litter.

The researchers found that abandoned or discarded fishing gear makes up half of the litter and nearly three-quarters of the total weight of litter on Indian beaches, 41% of the items and 40% of the weight of Sri Lankan beaches.

“Sri Lanka also faces increasing challenges with transboundary litter due to our unique ocean current patterns which puts us in the top 15 countries in the world most affected by plastic on beaches,” says Jamal.

In Sri Lanka, fishermen blamed stormy weather as the main cause of loss of fishing gear, while “bottom tearing” was the main cause cited by fishermen in India.

Fishermen in India and Sri Lanka told researchers that dedicated disposal sites for used fishing gear do not exist, and that the issue of discarded fishing gear is not talked about much, but they are largely positive about supporting a system that would collect old fishing gear.

I grew up in Sri Lanka

Jamal grew up in the cities of Belawati and Battaramulla in Sri Lanka, where they spent their childhood mostly outdoors which led them to test their theories about nature.

“After hearing from me, my parents would point me to learning resources that would either debunk or validate my ideas,” they say.

While studying for their degree in International Development through the University of London, and soon after, they had the opportunity to learn from mentors who taught them the importance of representation and sensitivity in development and conservation.

“To truly understand the challenges we face in Sri Lanka means understanding our compelling history, stunning landscapes and diverse communities,” says Jamal. “It is important to take advantage of the opportunities available to local people for the simple reason that the challenges we face are our lived experiences, such as managing expectations through bureaucracy.” , navigating culture, and even working in Boya days!”

They say it is important to recognize the privileges we enjoy at all levels of social classes, “which feed into nuances that vary from community to community, and from county to county.”

Plastic problems in Principe

On the other side of the world, another island team is tracking plastic pollution to save turtles: Conservationists in Sao Tome and Principe, a small, biodiverse African island nation, are using “GPS in a bottle” to track plastic pollution Which you are afflicted with. Their beaches.

The researchers, in partnership with the Portuguese Navy, launched ten GPS-enabled bottles at various points on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, to collect data on the movements and collection of surface plastics in and around the Gulf of Guinea.

“Despite our local efforts, plastic from elsewhere is washed ashore daily: we find turtles and their systems full of plastic every season, and 25% of videos collected from the 10 turtles tagged on video showed the presence of plastic in the vital habitat of coastal waters.” In Príncipe, says Estrella Matilde, former executive director of Fundação Príncipe.

Letoni Matos, Director of Fundação Príncipe, explains that the NGO hopes to continue to influence all local, national and international stakeholders to protect the island’s unique biodiversity.

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(Tags for translation)Sri Lanka

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