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Developing a long-term solution to Hong Kong’s marine conservation and marine litter problem

 

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The plastic pellet spill disaster of August, 2012 marked a watershed moment for Hong Kong’s marine environment. The crisis brought the marine pollution problem into the public eye and highlighted the urgent need for the government and green groups across Hong Kong to take action.

Today, WWF-Hong Kong and six strategic partners launched a large-scale ecological survey and coastal clean-up programme called Coastal Watch. This programme will develop a long-term solution to the marine litter problem, enhance and mobilize public awareness of our marine environment. Coastal Watch enjoys the support of the Environmental Campaign Committee, the Environment and Conservation Fund, several local groups and over 800 volunteers.

At the Coastal Watch kick off ceremony today, Mr Wong Kam-sing, JP, Secretary for the Environment; Mr CW Tse, JP, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department; and Mr Patrick Lai, Acting Assistant Director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, along with representatives from other government departments and local groups, cleaned up symbolic pieces of “marine litter”,illustrating that through the success of Coastal Watch, Hong Kong’s marine ecosystem can be protected and the beauty of our marine environment eventually restored. Mr Adam Koo, CEO of WWF-Hong Kong expressed his gratitude to all supporting parties. “The plastic pellet spill disaster of 2012 created a great awareness of marine conservation in the general public. We saw how much people truly cherish the waters that surround and sustain us. The spirit behind the Coastal Watch project is to bring forward this momentum and protect Hong Kong’s ecologically valuable marine environment.”

The Coastal Watch programme will last for 2 years and has already successfully recruited over 800 volunteers. During the course of the programme, teams of these volunteers led by Team Scientists will be responsible for 27 sites in a variety of coastal and marine habitats across Hong Kong, including mangroves, mudflats, sandy shores, rocky shores, coral communities and coastal water areas. The teams will conduct ecological, marine litter and microdebris surveys and perform clean-up activities. All information collected will be shared with the authorities, which will help the government identify the point of sources of marine litter and develop a long-term marine conservation policy.

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