Marine litter is not just an environmental problem but poses socio-economic challenges as well. Discuss. Also, enumerate the initiatives taken by the global community to reduce marine litter.

Globally 8 million tonnes of litter is dumped in water bodies every day. Marine litter refers to all the non-biodegradable waste like plastic, which is dumped in water bodies and remains there for hundreds of years.

Marine litter as Environmental Problem:

  • Today each and every ocean of the earth has plastic waste present in it.
  • This waste gets in ocean current cycles and forms garbage patches like the great pacific garbage patch.
  • Plastic breaks further into microplastic and causes a threat to marine biodiversity.
  • The waste in water also releases toxins that enter the food chain via bioaccumulation and biomagnification.
  • Loss of marine life due to such waste is also linked to oceanic warming and decreasing carbon sequestration properties of oceanic gyres.

Socio-Economic Problem:

  • Every year billions of dollars are spent on the removal of marine litter.
  • The fish industry is heavily affected.
  • Unequal contribution but equal suffering of all countries create debate regarding differentiated responsibilities between east and west.
  • The Cultural and tourism industry is also affected.

Steps taken by the global community:

  • The MARPOL Convention of WMO pertains to controlling the pollution caused by marine transportation ships, etc.
  • London Convention for the conservation of marine health.
  • Basel Convention on the transborder movement of hazardous waste.
  • GloLitter campaign on marine pollution.
  • Efforts by countries to designate Marine Protected Areas.

India being a signatory to most of the above conventions and also being a major player in the vast Indian Ocean has an active role to play in global awareness generation towards marine litter. Dedicated implementation, access to finance, and adherence to common but differentiated responsibility is the need of the hour.

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