Plastic has been a monumental menace in Goa for decades now, and the problem just gets worse despite the laws in place. Tourism and a lack of civic sense have been on top of the list as contributing factors.
Plastic pollution has most notably affected marine life in Goan waters. A problem that already has had negative implications on human health.
WWF-India, in partnership with Bajaj Finserv, is taking decisive action to address the pressing issue of marine plastics generated by tourism activities in Goa and southern Maharashtra.
These regions, known for their pristine natural beauty, are faced with the challenge of protecting endangered marine species and vital habitats such as coral reefs.
In a significant milestone, WWF-India has launched a WhatsApp chatbot designed to collect information on beach plastics. The chatbot offers a user-friendly platform for the general public to report the location, quantity and images of beach litter.
This data will help map the extent of unmanaged plastic waste in natural habitats and aid in identifying effective solutions.
Utilising the widely accessible WhatsApp platform, individuals can contribute to the cause by simply sending a message “plastic” to WWF's WhatsApp number - +917498982409.
The chatbot will guide participants through predefined questions to gather necessary details.
The growth of nature tourism, including coral reef scuba diving and dolphin watching, has brought increased plastic pollution to these fragile ecosystems. Recognising the urgent need for intervention, apart from taking steps like launching the chatbot, WWF-India is also working closely with dive and dolphin tour operators to implement effective plastic waste management strategies.
The operators will be provided training to ensure proper management and disposal of plastics onboard and on jetties. Moreover, they will be encouraged to participate actively in reef cleanup activities and the responsible disposal of plastic waste.
Local Goa and southern Maharashtra stakeholders will collaborate to establish and strengthen a reliable plastic management system.
Aditya Kakodkar, Senior Coordinator of Marine Conservation at WWF-India in Goa, emphasised the gravity of unmanaged coastal litter, particularly plastics, as a significant threat to coastal and marine biodiversity.
He highlighted the importance of assessing ground realities regarding the quantity and location of plastic debris along the coastline, a critical aspect of any action plan. WWF's plastic reporter WhatsApp chatbot is set to address this challenge.
The release of the WhatsApp chatbot was officiated by Dr Pradeep Sarmokadam, Member Secretary of Goa State Biodiversity Board, during a panel discussion on "Plastics in Goa's environment: Present scenario and solutions".
Esteemed panellists included representatives from Sensible Earth, VRecycle Waste Management Services and ComePostVilla. The event witnessed the participation of coastal region GSBB BMC chairs and concerned members of the general public.