Marine Litter and Micro Plastics Assessment in Marine Environment

 / Research / In-House /CIA/ Marine Litter and Micro Plastics Assessment in Marine Environment

The Project

Plastic debris have become ubiquitous in marine and freshwater systems, entering the environment via accidental release, mismanaged waste streams, and also through everyday use of certain personal care products, textiles that shed synthetic fibers. Currently, marine litter generation, especially the plastic issue, is a problem that has grown out of hand. Its costs to society and marine environments are immeasurable and irreversible. Impacts of plastic pollution encompass local, regional, national and global scales and includes adverse effects on human health, aesthetics, the economy, public perception, and impact on the marine biota. Similarly, its magnitude and composition are related to land use, socioeconomic activities and littering behaviour of public. Plastics in the marine environment are introduced through multiple pathways, and pose serious threats to aquatic biota. Recently microplastic pollution and its possible consequences in India have been recognized by the scientific community, however the extent of the crisis has not yet been quantified. NCSCM conducted extensive field assessment of marine litter and microplastics along Indian coast and the oceanic islands.


To establish the link between litter management and prevention of plastic waste reaching our oceans.


  • Marine litter and microplastics assessment in coastal and marine environment

  • Assessment of microplastic in the gut content of commercially important marine fishes and other intertidal organisms

  • Quantification and characterization of microplastic particles

  • Screening of plastic degrading microbes

  • Biochemical and molecular characterization of the efficient plastic degraders

  • Consortium development using efficient strains for degradation of plastics in marine environment

  • Classification of Indian beaches based on beach litter indices to enhance litter management in unmanaged beaches

Key Findings

Case study 1: Tamil Nadu

  1. Highest abundance of microplastics was recorded on beaches adjacent to river mouth.
  2. Polyethylene and polypropylene were the most abundant microplastics in the beaches.
  3. Microplastics were found in 10.1% of the 79 fishes representing 5 species.

Case study 2: Kerala

  • Microplastics were studied in key environmental matrices, southwest coast of India.
  • Fragments, primarily made of polyethylene were dominant in water and beach sediments.
  • Urbanization, river transport, fisheries and tourism regulate its distribution.
  • White coloured polyethylene fibres/lines were present in 21.4% of the 70 fishes.
  • Cd and Pb were the most dominant metals in polyethylene of beach sediments.

Case study 3: Lakshadweep Islands

  • Increased shipping, commercial fishing activities and improper handling of solid wastes release plastics and microplastics in the beaches remote islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Plastic bottle from Maldives, Hong Kong and Australia etc. were found in the uninhabited Suheli, lakshadweep
  • Role of regional circulation on fate and distribution of micro and mesoplastics along the islands established

Spatiotemporal distribution and typology of marine litteralong the beaches of Minicoy, Lakshadweep Islands