Pollution of plastic waste at sea is one of the most serious and urgent environmental problems on the global scale. According to report of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) of 2018, the world produces 400 million tons of plastic every year; however 79% of the world's plastic waste goes to landfills, 12% were burned and only 9% is recycled. With the current consumption of plastic and the current situation of non-improving plastic waste management, there will be 12 billion tons of plastic waste being discharged to landfills and the natural environment by 2050.
Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest amount of plastic waste dumped into the sea in the world, the volume of plastic waste from Vietnam to the sea varies from 0.28 to 0.73 million tons per year and ranks 4 out of the top 20 countries (according to Dr. Jenna Jamback, 2015). Plastic waste is causing negative impacts on the health of marine creatures. By 2050, 99% of seabirds will eat plastic waste, which will endanger more than 600 species of marine animals and 15% among them are in danger by getting caught in plastic waste or gastrointestinal tract. Marine turtles are at a significant risk of eating plastic debris at all stages of their life cycle. CSIRO (2019) found that when a turtle has 14 plastic debris in its gut, it's 50% likely to die. However, that does not mean that a turtle will not die if it consumes less than 14 pieces of plastic.
Recognizing the serious risk of plastic waste to the environment in general and marine species in particular, many legal documents have been issued. Many coastal provinces and cities have also included pollution and plastic waste disposal in their local socio-economic development plan. However, Vietnam does not have national data identifying plastic sources from land or sea. Furthermore, there has been no quantitative research or statistics on the amount of plastic waste in coastal areas, including marine protected areas, which are the most seriously areas affected by pollution of marine waste.
In that context, IUCN collaborated with the Green Development Assistance Center (Greenhub) from December, 2018 to July 2019 to develop a document “Guidelines for monitoring plastic waste on beaches and plastic pollution coastal areas”. Training and implementation of monitoring methods of plastic waste for 11 marine protected areas and coastal national parks in Vietnam were organized. According to the preliminary report of the first phase of the plastic waste monitoring program, 92% of the collected and supervised waste was plastic waste. Plastic waste is also the largest proportion of weight, followed by glass, wood, rubber, fabric and metal. The composition of the plastic waste in each area is also very diverse depending on the local economic and tourism development activities but the largest quantity in both quantity and volume is still plastic foam and fishing nets, ropes for fisheries activities.
Facing the serious impact of plastic waste on the marine environment, the Government has assigned the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to formulate a national action plan on minimizing ocean plastic waste by 2030. Many coastal provinces and cities also bring pollution and disposal of plastic waste into the local socio-economic development plan.
In order to minimize the plastic waste of the fishery industry, many recommendations have been made such as: Reviewing and developing local guidelines for plastic waste management; Conducting and coordinating inter-regional and national research; Formulating specific standards and regulations on the field of exploitation and aquaculture. Organizing annual forums to share results among stakeholders, train, communicate to the community and coordinate projects from donors. Waste management for ships and boats, handling of fishing gears, minimizing the number of fishing gears stuck in the sea and becoming garbage were mentioned.
The Directorate of Fisheries also sets out an orientation for plastic waste management in the fisheries sector by 2025. Accordingly, building and perfecting mechanisms and policies for ocean plastic waste management, reducing 50% of local plastic waste, 50% of fishing gear caught or thrown away will be collected, 80% of tourist areas. Coastal services do not use disposable plastic products and plastic bags, ensuring at least twice a year to collect and clean plastic waste at beach beaches. Therefore, 80% of marine conservation zones do not have waste.
At the workshop, a detailed report on white pollution in 11 marine protected areas was presented with comments from marine protected areas, to provide important data that contributes to the orientation of activities for reducing plastic pollution for the fishery. In addition, experts also discussed a number of recommendations for the Pollution-Payer Policy (ERP), initiatives to reduce plastics in coastal cities of some marine protected areas, and to listen to the on efforts to reduce plastic pollution in Cu Lao Cham MPA.
It can be said that the National Workshop is an opportunity for the D-Fish- MARD to discuss directly with representatives of 12 marine protected areas/national parks, domestic and international non-governmental organizations and parties. Other concerns about the priority activities that contribute to reducing plastic pollution in the fisheries sector. This is considered one of the positive and specific efforts of the D-Fish in the fight against "white pollution" in Vietnam.