In today’s post, we’ll review how plastic pollution can negatively impact humans residing in coastal community.
- Aesthetic Values
Pollution in coastal environment is visually unsightly as they tend to strand and concentrate along shorelines and sandy beaches. This has a serious impact on the local tourism industry as these beaches are of considerable recreational importance.
- Impacts of Marine Debris on Subsistence Fishermen (Nash, 1992)
A study conducted at two beaches close to Jayapura, Irian Jaya province, Indonesia, reported on how marine debris such as plastics affected the livelihood of subsistence fishermen. First, all motorboat users reported waste being caught in their propellers. The waste involved consisted mainly of plastic bags, pieces of rope or plastic strings. changing location or not fishing at all if too much waste was seen floating.
Second, fishermen complained about how they had to change location or not fish at all if too much waste was seen floating. This forces them to give up on location which normally generates high yield.
Third, the fishermen are also required to change their fishing gear as waste caught by gill nets included wooden crates, glass bottles, tin cans, cardboard, pieces of netting, plastic bags, bottles and other plastic objects, and food. Plastic bags are also caught by hook and line. Having debris trapped in the fishing net negatively affects the yield of the fishermen as follows: The debris makes the nets detectable by the fish, hence reducing the yield. Clearing the nets is time-consuming and often compels the fisherman to change location for a variety of reasons. Net repair or replacement can represent a large investment of money and time to a fisherman, increasing its expenditure at the same time that his income is reduced by having one net out of action, or worse, by having no nets at all.
- Impact on the Health of Coastal Communities (Thompson et al., 2009)
As mentioned in the earlier posts, this blog has talked about how the decomposition of plastics can give rise to harmful chemicals that can affect human health.
As plastics bioaccumulate in the foodchain, they may rise to levels that have severe effects of the lives human beings. Presently, the exact effects of plastic by-products on human health are still inconclusive as there could be other synergistic effects as a result of the different environment and vulnerability. Rigorous testing and experiments are still being conducted.
Nash, A.D., 1992. Impacts of marine debris on subsistence fishermen An exploratory study. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 24(3), pp.150-156.
Thompson, R.C., Moore, C.J., Vom Saal, F.S. and Swan, S.H., 2009. Plastics, the environment and human health: current consensus and future trends.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,364(1526), pp.2153-2166.