Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Plastic Fishing Waste Threatens Endangered Wildlife in Ganges River

Popular
Plastic Fishing Waste Threatens Endangered Wildlife in Ganges River
Pollution on the Ganges River. Kaushik Ghosh / Moment Open / Getty Images

The most polluted river in the world continues to be exploited through fishing practices that threaten endangered wildlife, new research shows.


The Ganges River is a quagmire of raw sewage, toxic waste and overfishing from the crowded cities along its waterway. It is also home to the endangered Ganges river dolphin and the critically endangered three-striped roofed turtle, along with other threatened marine species.

As part of the National Geographic Society's "Sea to Source: Ganges" expedition, a study was conducted to understand how much plastic pollution or "ghost" fishing threatens the native wildlife. Fishing nets are common in the river, and entanglements frequently occur.

According to interviews conducted with the local fishing community as part of the study, nets and equipment are commonly left in the river. Researchers at the University of Exeter, who gathered data for the study, found disposal systems in short supply.

"The Ganges River supports some of the world's largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife," said Dr. Sarah Nelms, a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, and an author of the study.

"Ingesting plastic can harm wildlife, but our threat assessment focused on entanglement, which is known to injure and kill a wide range of marine species."

Professor Heather Koldewey, of the Zoological Society of London and the University of Exeter, and a National Geographic Fellow believes the "circular economy" – the reuse of products and equipment that have monetary value – can play a role in keeping nets out of the river, especially when nets are made of durable nylon material which can be reused to make carpet or clothing.

"Collection and recycling of nylon 6 has strong potential as a solution because it would cut plastic pollution and provide an income," she said.

Plastic pollution in marine and freshwater ecosystems continues on an increasing scale to cause wildlife death. But Koldewey believes behavior changes through this new research could have positive effects.

"This is a complex problem that will require multiple solutions – all of which must work for both local communities and wildlife."

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less