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Sea Is Becoming Increasingly Polluted

INDIA - The waters off the Mangalore coast are now more polluted than before, according to a scientific study conducted by the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

Mr Shirodkar, a researcher at the NIO who studied the phenomenon, told The Hindu, that the present cadmium and phenol levels off the Mangalore coast were higher than those recorded in the past. Describing them as toxic contaminants, he said the studies had showed that there had been a gradual increase in their concentration because of the entry of untreated sewage and industrial effluents and man-made factors.

He, however, stressed that the situation was not alarming and cautioned that the rising levels of some contaminants called for precautions. “I am presenting the scenario. It is not alarming. But hereafter precautions are needed,” he said.

To a question on the source of contaminants, he blamed industrial effluents. “Such industries are there… anthropological or man-made activities … contribute to it,” he said.

Mr Shirodkar maintained that the rise in levels of cadmium and phenols was not so high as to impact marine organisms or fisheries. He pointed out that toxic contaminants could enter the food chain if allowed to increase further and start affecting people’s health. “This is why I say precautions have to be taken.”

Earlier, he told a two-day seminar on sustainable development of fisheries here that treating effluents fully was the only way to save marine life from pollution. Speaking of the pollution of the entire Indian coast he said for every litre of treated effluent, four to five litres of untreated effluents were being let into the oceans.

He said increased levels of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) were observed in the waters in port areas. The Karnataka and Maharashtra coasts topped the list of coastal States for PHC concentration. Mr. Shirodkar presented a paper titled “Status of marine pollution and its impact on Indian marine fisheries.”

A team of researchers, including Mr Shirodkar, analysed samples collected from 15 stations along three transects off the Karnataka coast (from Mangalore harbour in the south to Suratkal in the north) in 2007. The results showed increased concentration of contaminants.

A.R.T. Arasu of Fish Culture Division, Central Institute of Brackish Water and Aquaculture, who presented a paper on “Coastal aquaculture in India – present and path ahead”, said that aquaculture in India was plagued by diseases and heavy dependence on single species. Poor marketing, use of antibiotics and failure to develop domestic markets also had adversely affected it. While China produced 32.4 million tonnes of food through aquaculture, the quantity here was a mere 2.8 million tonnes. The country was now advocating low input diversified shrimp aquaculture and organic farming. He said although aquaculture was problematic, it still was profitable. Different agencies needed to pool in their resources to boost aquaculture, he suggested.

K.M. Shankar, Professor and Head, Department of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries here, said business worth $ 36 million was lost because of diseases. He presented a paper on disease management in coastal and marine aquaculture.

the Fish Site Editor

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