Tackling Marine Litter
Litter seriously threatens Hong Kong’s marine life. And to date, coastal clean-up activities have been reactive rather than proactive, barely scratching the surface of this profound problem.
To start tackling the issue at its source, WWF and several partner organizations launched the two-year Coastal Watch programme in 2014. With help from volunteers and the fishing community, surveys on marine litter and ecological diversity were conducted and clean-up operations in a variety of coastal environments were carried out around Hong Kong The Coastal Watch surveys provided a clearer picture of the severity of Hong Kong’s marine litter problem and raised awareness on the importance of proactively reducing marine litter at its source. The surveys are an ongoing source of information for the government and various NGOs that will help develop long-term solutions to our marine litter problem.
ECF Sea Without LitterThe ECF Sea Without Litter project, initiated by WWF in 2017 with support from the government’s Environment and Conservation Fund, encourages marine-related stakeholders – recreational groups and businesses, diving groups, as well as the fishery and seafood industry, – to take a proactive role in formulating long-term solutions to reducing marine litter. Efforts include reducing waste generation, stepping up recycling and replacing disposables with greener alternatives. The project, which builds on efforts made from Coastal Watch, also invites citizen scientists from secondary schools to study how land-based litter enters the sea from rivers and drains. Upon completion of their study, students engaged in the programme are asked to help promote marine conservation messages in their schools and communities.
For more details on ECF Sea Without Litter, please click here.
Among the most common type of marine litter are polystyrene fish boxes and their fragments, which are fragile and light, allowing them to affect large areas of coastlines and making them difficult to clean up. To reduce this particular source of marine contamination, WWF is working with the fishing industry to research the feasibility of replacing polystyrene fish boxes.
The source of Hong Kong’s marine litter differs widely by district, depending on the area’s geographical location and orientation, and on the area’s commercial and recreational uses. Developing more targeted strategies and tactics are needed to better understand the sources of marine litter in the different districts. To achieve this goal, we will cooperate with community groups to study and clean up coastlines, and host community-based workshops on formulating solutions to local marine litter problems. The initiative helps build community cohesiveness, which further promotes marine litter awareness within local communities.
Local and Cross-border Cooperation on Marine Litter
The marine litter problem is by no means unique to Hong Kong. WWF is actively engaged with NGOs from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan, and together we are exchanging ideas and initiating cross-border cooperative actions to tackle marine litter at the regional level and improve the regional situation in the long run.