Marine plastic pollution: Panaji, Mumbai, Kochi to link with UK towns

The three coastal port cities of Panaji, Mumbai and Kochi are to be ‘twinned’ with three similarly located cities in the UK under a new project to share best practices and help curb marine plastic pollution that is estimated to kill millions of animals every year.

Bangor, a town 20 km north-east of Belfast in Northern Ireland, has been chosen to twin with Panaji in Goa, while Glasgow in Scotland is to be similarly linked with Mumbai, and Aberystwyth in Wales is proposed to be twinned with Kochi.

The Ards and North Down Borough Council last week approved the proposal to twin Bangor with Panaji, with the other two links likely to be formalised by local authorities soon.

The project, called the ‘UK-India Marine Litter Twin Cities’, has been conceptualised by India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences and the UK Science and Innovation Network, and is scheduled to be rolled out in two phases from early 2021.

Its key objectives include promoting engagement between scientists, innovators and policymakers in the twinned cities with common marine litter-related challenges and goals; and sharing monitoring and evidence-gathering practices using science and technology to manage marine litter.

At least two visits/joint studies are planned every year between each set of ‘twins’ under the project, which will also include an annual UK-India Twin Cities conference to share progress and findings, according to the project’s details.

The key challenges before the three twins have been identified as fishing gear, rubber gloves, single use plastics, seabird health (for Bangor-Panaji); single use plastics (particularly school catering, cups), recycling and waste hierarchy (for Glasgow-Mumbai); and single use plastics (particularly takeaway containers, cups, water bottles), restricted waste storage (for Aberystwyth-Kochi).

Trevor Cummings, mayor of Ards and North Down, told the local media after the council approved the project that it would elevate the council’s role from local to global: “I think it’s a recognition too of the unique position of ourselves as custodians of the 115 miles of coastline that we have around us”.

“It follows the pioneering seabin project here, which was very successful. It allows the opportunity to work along with world-leading researchers in developing realistic and feasible solutions to reduce ocean waste. That can only serve to benefit the borough as a whole,” he added.

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