Two years have passed since the 2012 plastic pellet spill disaster, yet marine litter is still an ongoing problem for Hong Kong. Marine debris of all shapes and sizes continues to cover our shorelines, and plastic pellets are still easily found on beaches across Hong Kong. To address the problem, WWF-Hong Kong and its six strategic partners launched a large-scale ecological survey and coastal clean-up programme called Coastal Watch in June, which is now up and running. Over 800 volunteers have already taken part in the ecological and marine litter surveys at “adopted” sites across Hong Kong. To engage the public and highlight the severity of Hong Kong’s marine litter problem, we recently invited media groups to the Sam Mun Tsai siteto observe the Coastal Watch team’s investigations and surveying processes in action.

Situated in Tai Po, Sam Mun Tsai contains a rich and diverse ecology whichincludes mangroves, mudskippers, fiddler crabs and many more types of flora and fauna. However, the entire ecosystem is “under attack” from the many different types of waste left behind by human activities and carelessness: fishing nets from the fishing industry; homeware and construction materials from nearby villages; and plastic bottles, barbecue forks and plastic cutlery from tourist hotspots close by.

Through the ecological and marine litter surveys, the Coastal Watch team hopes to trace back marine litter to its source, in order to determine the true impact on Sam Mun Tsai’s environment. After the completion of the site work, the Coastal Watch team will analyze the data and pass the results to the appropriate government sectors, with the aim of establishing long-term marine conservation strategies.

Ms. Ng, a volunteer for the Coastal Watch project,said, “I never thought that materials as tiny as plastic pellets and metal wires could have such dramatic impacts on our marine ecology. This project has provided me with profound conservation experience, and made me realize that we only need to think a little more and do a little more to ease the marine pollution problem.”

Patrick Yeung, WWF-Hong Kong’s Coastal Watch Project Manager added, “The purpose of starting the Coastal Watch project was to create awareness in the general public about the marine litter problem. We urge the public to join in our coastal surveys and clean-up activities to help protect and contribute to sustaining our highly valuable marine ecology, and promote marine conservation at the same time.”


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