What is Blue-flagging?

What is Blue-flagging?

  • ‘Blue Flag’ is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.
  • Blue Flag programme aims to connect public with their surroundings and encourage them to learn more about their environment.
  • The Blue Flag programme is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • In order to qualify for this prestigious award, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related criteria must be met and maintained.
  • About 4500 beaches, marinas and boat operators from 44 different countries have joined the ‘blue-flag’ network.

 

Marine plastic pollution: A backgrounder

  • Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in oceans.
  • According to UNEP, about 8 million tons of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans each year.
  • Further 60-80% of the litter in oceans is plastic.
  • Currently the focus of studies on marine pollution is microplastic pollution.

 

Causes of marine plastic pollution

  • Human activities including both land-based and sea-based activities are the major sources of marine pollution in the world.
  • Land-based sources include
    • dumping of waste along coastlines
    • littering on beaches
    • breaking down of ships
    • floods and other storm-related events flush this waste into the sea.
  • The sea-based sources include
    • discarded fishing gear
    • shipping activities
    • legal and illegal dumping

 

Poor waste management especially in Asia

  • Though Europe and America are the largest plastic producers, Asia is the largest dumper of marine waste.
  • According to a study, China was the top dumper of marine waste in the world.
  • India is mismanaging over 80% of its waste compared to 2% in the U.S.
  • Though India generates around 0.34 kg of waste per person per day (ppd), it is the 12 largest marine waste dumper in the world.
  • In contrast, USA though generates 2.58 kg ppd of waste it is the 20th largest dumper.

 

Impact of marine plastic pollution

Economic losses

  • Coastal communities are facing increased expenditures on beach cleaning, public health and waste disposal.
  • The shipping industry is impacted by higher costs associated with fouled propellers, damaged engines, and managing waste in harbours.
  • The fishing industry damaged gear and reduced and contaminated catch.

Ecological and biodiversity loss

  • It severely hampers ecosystem functions and services.
  • Fishing gear discared in the sea can entangle and kill marine life.
  • Fishing nets, plastic bags can trap fish and mammals, preventing them from swimming, foraging for food and mating.
  • Plastic causes severe damage to digestive tracts of various species including fish, seabirds etc.
  • Microplastics glued with toxins like pesticides can be ingested by small aquatic life.
  • These toxic microplastics can biomagnify as they move up the food chain accumulating in birds, sea life, humans etc.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

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