WWF-India teamed up with college students in Gujarat to clear over 500 kg of waste from the Veraval seafront.

On the morning of November 25, a group of 60 students from the Veraval Fisheries College in Gujarat and a few other volunteers came together at the Veraval seafront for a shared goal: a plastic-free ocean. In the six hours that followed, the group collected plastic, ghost gear, glass bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottle caps, and grocery bags from the beach.

The crew worked along a two-kilometre stretch—from the Veraval Chowpati beach to the Devika river mouth (a mini fishing harbour). By the end of the coastal clean-up, the participants had collected over 550 kilograms of waste. Plastic constituted a 350-kilogram pile, ghost gear made up another 120 kilograms, and a third 80-kilogram heap of miscellaneous debris included glass bottles, footwear, and medical waste. The biggest menace was found to be food-packaging material, including plastic sachets and single-use plastic cups, bags, and wrappers. The collected ghost gear featured discarded HDPE (high-density polyethylene) nets, microfilament nets, and ropes.

The collected waste will now be recycled in plastic recycling units. WWF-India plans to conduct similar beach clean-ups in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.

© WWF-India

Exorcising Ghosts of Fishing Past

WWF-India initiated this coastal clean-up as part of its project ‘Addressing marine debris and ghost gear through community participation in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra’, which is supported by Plum Goodness. Lost or discarded fishing gear, commonly called ghost gear, is the deadliest marine plastic debris. Roughly 500,000 to one-million tonnes of fishing gear is abandoned in the ocean every year. Marine animals that get caught in ghost gear die of suffocation. Ghost gear can take decades to break down into smaller pieces, and causes lasting damage to valuable habitats, such as coral reefs and mangroves.

Dr. N. Pravin Kumar, Senior Programme Coordinator, WWF-India, said, “WWF-India has embarked on this project to better understand and address the issue of ghost gear in the marine environment. Through awareness workshops and coastal clean-up, we aim to enhance local understanding of the threats associated with marine debris pollution and promote people’s contribution towards mitigating the ghost gear issue.”

© WWF-India

A Plastic-Free Future

Besides clean-ups, WWF-India is creating awareness about ghost gear and its harmful impact among fishers and supporting them in keeping the shore free of plastic waste. Nearly half of the college students who participated in the Veraval clean-up belonged to fishing communities. WWF-India also organised drawing competitions in nearby schools under the ‘Plastic-Free Ocean’ theme to build awareness on marine conservation among young learners.