State of the marine environment in the South Asian Seas Region.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) ocean program is studying global marine environments to form a policy to protect the oceans. This report examines the marine environment of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Andaman Sea. Bacteria and viruses comprise the most important contaminants in the South Asia seas. They enter marine life which humans eat and then develop diarrhea. Pathogens enter the seas through untreated sewage which causes much eutrophication. Zooplankton contain considerable concentrations of heavy metals and pesticides. None of the zooplankton samples drawn from seas around India in 1978, 1981, 1983, and 1985 contained mercury, however. Yet mercury and other heavy metals are present in fish species in at least the Ganges River estuary, Andaman Sea, the Karachi harbor in Pakistan, and seas around Bangladesh. Common chlorinated pesticides found off the coast of India include DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, and BHC. Industrial development is increasing the levels of other contaminants such as solid waste and synthetic detergents. Coastal erosion is common in South Asia. Considerable siltation occurs at the head of the Bay of Bengal. Several urban areas are reclaiming the sea using materials from solid wastes and garbage, but these materials leach which causes public health problems. In India, nuclear power plants operate near the coast where they release 50% of the generated heat to the coastal environment. Dredge materials from harbors in India are dumped offshore which resulted in almost complete depletion of fisheries near these harbors. Tourism poses a threat to coastal environments due to the increase in nonbiodegradable solid waste such as cans, plastics, and empty bottles. Oil tanker disasters, bilge washings, and discharge of ballast water contribute to the sizable amount of oil pollution in the Indian ocean. Exploitation damages coral reefs, mineral deposits, mangroves, and marine life.