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After 10-day campaign on marine plastic pollution, vessel docks at Kochi port


After a 10-day campaign to raise awareness on the menace of marine plastic litter, ocean vessel Sagar Sampada berthed at Cochin Port on Wednesday. The Fishery Oceanographic Research Vessel (FORV) of the ministry of earth sciences (MoES), which started its journey from Okha on September 23, delivered messages against dumping plastic waste in oceans at Porbandar and Karwar ports and drew huge response, authorities said.

The vessel was open for students and public to view the research facilities as part of the India International Science Festival 2019.

The ministry is launching a Rs 7,000-crore project named ‘Deep Sea Mission’ for Indian Ocean research. One of the projects will be mapping the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for plastics in deep sea. We will also look into how the plastics are impacting the marine food chain. It will be a three-year study, which will help us go further in addressing the issue of marine plastic,” said M Sudhakar, director, Centre for Marine Living Resources (CMLRE), a regional centre of MoES at Puthuvype.

Scientists said they had recorded the presence of plastic in the waters off Thiruvananthapuram almost 300km away indicating the depth of the litter problem.

He said since the mandate of CMLRE is deep sea research, it is one zone that will have to investigated by the CMLRE scientists who get lots of plastics in their trawl nets when they go for collecting samples from the ocean bed. “We think the filter-feeders (marine organisms which filter the water through their bodies and only consume the food which comes along with the water) will be the species to study,” said V N Sanjeevan, former director, CMLRE.

The Sagar Sampada has completed more than 350 scientific cruises in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. It has accommodation facilities for a team of 59, which include 34 crew members of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and 25 technicians. Among the scientific facilities on-board include a hydrographic laboratory, which helps to collect water samples from desired depths.

The laboratory is also provided with a multiple plankton net (MPN) for collection of zooplankton and Bongo nets for horizontal collection of zooplankton. The Sagar Sampada also has an auto-trawl system on-board which facilitates smooth fishing operations in deep waters. It also boasts of plankton research facilities.

It also has a hull-mounted acoustic doppler current profiler for current measurements and an automatic weather station for collection of ocean data, LAN facilities and a marine aquarium to conduct experiments on live animals.