COASTAL WATCH

COASTAL WATCH

23 October, 2015
Results released
NGOs unite to better understand how trash is affecting HK waters and shores
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Coastal Watch has been running since June 2014, led by WWF, Ecozine's own Hong Kong Cleanup, and Eco Marine, Green Council, Eco-Education and Resources Centre, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong and Plastic Free Seas. Its aim? To create the first comprehensive survey on both marine ecology and marine litter, and to support efforts to clean up Hong Kong’s coastlines and determine effective long-term solutions to marine litter. 
 
The project has so far engaged a total of 1,125 volunteers working in 27 coastal sites, logging 265 survey hours in total. The resulting marine debris data was released last week, classified into five main types: ecological, land-based macro-debris and micro-debris, coastal floating litter and underwater litter. Unsurprisingly, the report highlights that it is a matter of urgency to improve marine ecology and to protect the vast biodiversity in Hong Kong’s marine habitats.
 
The ecological survey confirmed that Hong Kong actually presents a very diverse marine coastline, a valuabel asset worth protecting. Plastic is the major threaten to the marine ecology; shoreline results shows that plastic are the main type of marine litter, especially plastic fragments and single-use disposable items. 
 
But it's not just on shorelines that plastic collects. Surveys done in collaboration with localcollaborating with fishing communities collected an average of 695 pieces of coastal floating litter every two hours - and plastic accounted for as much as 84.7 per cent, mostly disposable products such as bottles, cutlery and polystyrene boxes. Plastic is also the most common material in the underswater surveyscomprising 60 per cent of all litter encountered on the sea bottom.
 
The report made it clear that plastic is the dominant source of litter in shoreline and underwater environment. The problem with this is not only aesthetic or even about nature conservation; it's about human health. Plastics pollute marine life. The pollutants will be absorbed by marine animals, in turn influencing fishery resources, and eventually affecting human health. 
 
Resolving this problem will rely on a joint effort by the government, business and the public. Both consumers and producers should consider the impacts of disposable plastic products and take responsibility for conserving our marine ecosystems by seeking alternative solutions. 
 
It's imperative that we tackle the marine litter problem immediately to save Hong Kong’s diverse marine ecosystems - for nature's sake, and our own.
 
Want to show your support? We've extended the 2015 Hong Kong Cleanup Challenge to 1st of December. Join us now to make a difference to Hong Kong's marine and coastal ecosystems!
 

By: Ecozine Staff
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