KOLLAM, INDIAKadalamma—Mother Sea—that’s what Xavier Peter calls the Arabian Sea. His own mother gave him life, but Kadalamma gave him purpose, a livelihood. She has provided for him, offering up enough fish to feed his family and sell at the market. And she has protected him, sparing him thrice from cyclones and once from a tsunami.
Xavier has been trawling for shrimp and fish off India’s southwestern coast for more than three decades, his whole adult life. But lately, when he casts out his nets, he often comes up with more plastic than fish.
“Pulling the nets out of the water is extra effort, with all this plastic tangled in them,” he says. “It’s a bit like trying to draw water from a well—your bucket is somehow being weighed back down.”
He and his crew of six then spend hours separating the garbage from their catch.
For Xavier, the whole ordeal is a regular reminder that Kadalamma is sick, and that he and his community have made her so. “This is India’s greatest failure,” he says.
He used to just sigh and chuck the plastic back overboard. Not anymore.
Since August last year, he and nearly 5,000 other fishermen and boat owners in Kollam—a fishing town of 400,000 in India’s southernmost state, Kerala—have been hauling back to land all the plastic that they find while they’re out at sea. With help from several government agencies, they’ve also set up the first-ever recycling center in the region, to clean, sort, and process all the sea-tossed plastic bags, bottles, straws, flip-flops, and drowned Barbies that they fish out. So far, they’ve collected about 65 metric tons (71 short tons) of plastic waste. (Learn more about the plastic pollution crisis.)
It doesn’t take much to persuade coastal communities of the dangers of plastic, says Peter Mathias, who heads a regional union for fishing boat owners and operators. For years, he says, fishermen have been complaining to him about plastic getting caught in their gear.
And that isn’t even the worst of it. A decade back, a small crew like Xavier’s could easily pull in up to four tons of fish over the course of a 10-day expedition. These days, he’s lucky to get a fifth of that. Although many factors, including climate change and overfishing, are affecting fish stock, plastic is the most dramatically visible culprit.
Many types of fish easily mistake plastic for prey, and studies show that they can die of either poisoning or malnutrition as a result. Other sea life gets caught in and strangled by abandoned nylon fishing nets. Large patches of plastic on the sea bed are also blocking some species’ access to their breeding grounds.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell with Google Hangouts On-Air is every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
Maker Business — A list of companies owned by Amazon. It’s big.
Wearables — Stitch marks
Electronics — Capacitor ESR
Biohacking — Vitamin-C + Gelatin for Accelerated Recovery
Python for Microcontrollers — Python snakes its way to the STM32, Serpente, and more!
Adafruit IoT Monthly — Adafruit IO Updates, RGB Stream Deck Message Panel, and more
Microsoft MakeCode — Welcome to the MakeCode Newsletter!
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.