Phuket to host 1st Asean sea waste sum­mit


Ma­rine ex­perts from Asean coun­tries will meet in the south­ern re­sort is­land of Phuket next week for the first round of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion on the sub­ject of re­duc­ing sea waste.

“The chal­lenge is find­ing a way to limit waste on the main­land to the same de­gree as we re­duce garbage found at sea,” said Wi­jarn Si­machaya, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment.

“If we can come up with strong mea­sures for waste re­duc­tion, it will help re­duce the prob­lem of ma­rine de­bris.”

Par­tic­i­pants in the Nov 22-23 event will in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Asean coun­tries’ en­vi­ron­men­tal min­istries, an of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive from China, aca­demic ex­perts in ma­rine stud­ies and in­ter­na­tional con­ser­va­tion groups.

They are ex­pected to come up with a re­gional frame­work to re­duce sea waste that will be pre­sented at the UN En­vi­ron­ment Assem­bly in Kenya next month.

The world’s top four pol­luters in terms of plas­tic waste en­ter­ing the ocean are all in Asia.

China, which re­leases 2.22 mil­lion tonnes of plas­tic waste every year, is the lead­ing scourge, fol­lowed by In­done­sia at No.2 with 1.29 mil­lion tonnes, then the Philip­pines and Viet­nam, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram.

Thai­land ranks sixth in the top 10 and Malaysia is eighth.

The En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry said the na­tion’s 24 coastal prov­inces pro­duce about 10 mil­lion tonnes of waste every year, up to 10% of which is ex­pected to be re­leased into the sea.

The govern­ment is de­vis­ing new mea­sures to re­solve this is­sue in­clud­ing its re­cent smok­ing ban on pop­u­lar beaches, said Jatu­porn Bu­rus­pat, chief of the De­part­ment of Ma­rine and Coastal Re­sources.

Mean­while, a sur­vey to de­ter­mine the main sources of the waste in the 24 prov­inces is due to be com­pleted by early next year, of­fi­cials said.

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