International
The ill fated MV X-Press Pearl

Int'l - Never be caught again with sea disasters, experts urge

With the prospect of having a vast floating sheet of plastic pellets stretching across the entire Indian Ocean as just one consequence of the environmental damage caused by the fire on the MV X-Press Pearl, experts have called for proactive planning to deal with ship disasters as well as a continuous marine bio-diversity assessing mechanism.

With the prospect of having a vast floating sheet of plastic pellets stretching across the entire Indian Ocean as just one consequence of the environmental damage caused by the fire on the MV X-Press Pearl, experts have called for proactive planning to deal with ship disasters as well as a continuous marine bio-diversity assessing mechanism.

“The impact to marine life from the recent ship disaster will last for decades. Preparedness is lacking and planning is only mobilised when there is a problem. We need to have structures set up to respond to marine extreme events,” Dr. Charitha Pattiaratchi, Professor of Coastal Oceanography of the Oceans Institute of the University of Western Australia, said.

Prof. Pattiaratchi who has been observing the movement of the surface chlorophyll reflecting the pathway of the nurdles (plastic pellets) released from containers of the burning and sinking X-Press Pearl off the shores of Sri Lanka, told the Sunday Times these would extend across the whole Indian Ocean from Somalia to Indonesia including India and the Maldives.

“Plastics pellets are generally not toxic but the ingestion of large quantities can cause death,” he said. “Pellets can get stuck in fish gills and also suffocate marine animals such as turtles and dolphins. The only way to reduce its impact is to remove as much as possible.”

The worst environmental damage from the sinking ship would be the potential oil spill, he emphasised.

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