Qualitative and quantitative assessment of plastic debris in the coastal eco system of Matara District, Sri Lanka

Weerasinghe, K D T N, Weerasinghe, K D N, Jayathissa, W D S, Williams, Karl S orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2250-3488 and Liyanage, Champika Lasanthi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6687-3611 (2021) Qualitative and quantitative assessment of plastic debris in the coastal eco system of Matara District, Sri Lanka. In: Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Disaster Risks. Springer, Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland, pp. 277-290. ISBN 978-3-030-73002-4

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The current study was conducted to assess the types and amounts of plastic waste accumulated in the marine beaches and mangrove forest in Matara district, Southern Sri Lanka. Monitoring was conducted during October - November 2019 selecting five beach sites. The type and quantity of plastics accumulation in the sites were monitored in weekly intervals. The role played by local communities (Fisherman, villagers, hoteliers, NGOs and local authorities) to control the plastic accumulation in the marine environment was also evaluated through face to face semi structured interviews.
Findings revealed that coastal plastic has become a barrier in maintaining both the aesthetic and environmental health of the coastline. This in turn impacted the local communities who relied on tourism and fishing. The study showed that most of the accumulated plastics on coastlines were polyolefins, polystyrene and other “float plastics”. Plastic debris have migrated through waterways from inland to the ocean. Local community actions such as beach cleaning and burning of plastic wastes have provided only temporary solutions. Therefore, more progressive measures are needed to be conducted to give sustainable solutions to coastal plastics. This could be achieved through education programs for all stakeholders involved in the plastic’s journey in the marine environment. Complementary solutions would be the provision of alternatives by devising technological solutions to divert plastic from the environment.

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