Tackling Marine Litter
Marine litter is a major issue that is seriously threatening marine life in Hong Kong. Thus far, coastal clean-up activities have been reactive rather than proactive, and have barely scratched the surface of this profound problem.
To begin tackling the issue at its source, in 2014 WWF and several partner organizations launched the two-year Coastal Watch programme. Its aim was to conduct surveys of marine litter and ecological diversity and clean up litter in a variety of coastal environments around Hong Kong with the help of volunteers and the fishing community. The Coastal Watch surveys provided a clearer picture of the severity of the marine litter problem in Hong Kong, and helped to raise awareness of the importance of proactively reducing marine litter at its source. The surveys are an on-going source of information for the government and various NGOs which will help all parties develop long-term solutions to our marine litter problem.
ECF Sea Without LitterThe results of the Coastal Watch project underline the important role the marine sector can play in collecting and preventing marine litter. Beginning in 2017, WWF initiated a new project called “ECF Sea Without Litter” with the support of the government’s Environment and Conservation Fund. One of the aims of this project is to encourage marine-related businesses to take a proactive role in reducing waste generation and increasing recycling. Participating businesses will play a key role in raising awareness of the marine litter issue amongst their staff, members, customers and stakeholders. This awareness will aid in the formulation of long-term solutions to Hong Kong’s serious marine litter problem.
For more details on ECF Sea Without Litter, please click here.
One of the most common types of marine litter is polystyrene fish boxes and their fragments, which are fragile and light, allowing them to affect large areas of our 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. We have also begun collaborating with ten schools around Hong Kong to study the ways in which land-based litter flows into the sea. Students from these schools are also going to take the initiative to promote conservation within their schools and their communities.
Hong Kong is surrounded by the sea and the sources of marine litter differ widely by district. The origin of marine litter in a particular area is dependent on the area’s geographical location and orientation, and on the different commercial and recreational uses associated with the area. To develop more targeted strategies and tactics, we need to better understand the sources of marine litter in the different districts. To achieve this goal, we will cooperate with different community groups to investigate and clean up coastlines, and host community-based workshops to formulate solutions to local marine litter problems. This helps build community cohesiveness which further promotes marine litter awareness within the local communities.
Local and Cross-border Co-operation 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 which will address marine litter at the regional level and improve the regional situation in the long run.