Vietnam begins a cleanup campaign to end the tons of garbage that flood Halong Bay

Vietnam begins a cleanup campaign to end the tons of garbage that flood Halong Bay

2023-05-26 11:18:07


The Asian country is suffering from a pollution crisis caused by the large amount of plastic on its coasts that receive millions of tourists every year.

Garbage-affected beach in Ha Long Bay, VietnamAFP

Standing in his boat, squinting into the rising sun, Vu Thi Thinh picks up a block of Styrofoam floating on the calm waters of the famous Bay of Ha Longin Vietnam.

It’s not yet nine in the morning, but he’s already collected a mountain of wrappers, plastic bottles and cans of beer.

They are the most visible trace of the human impact that has degraded this site. UNESCO World Heritagefamous for its turquoise waters with calcareous islets that rise like towers everywhere.

“I’m tired because I pick up garbage all day in the bay without much rest. I have to do five to seven trips per day to pick up everything,” complains Thinh, 50, who has been a garbage collector for nearly a decade.

Since the beginning of March, a total of 10,000 cubic meters of garbageenough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to the Ha Long Bay administrative board.

The garbage problem has been particularly acute in the last two months, when a plan to replace the polystyrene buoys in fisheries with more sustainable alternatives had adverse outcomesbecause the fishermen threw the excess buoys into the sea.

Do Tien Thanhan environmentalist with the Halong Bay Administration Department, has commented that the buoys were a short-term problem, but admits that “Halong Bay is under pressure“.

human waste

Ms de 7 million people They visited in 2022 the spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay, on the northeastern coast of Vietnam.

The authorities expect the figure to rise to 8.5 million this year.

But the popularity of the site and the rapid expansion of Halong City, which now has luxury hotels and thousands of new houseshan daado seriamente su ecosistema.

Environmentalists estimate that there were some 234 types of corals in the bay Now there are about half.

There have been signs of recovery, with a slow increase in coral coverwhile the dolphins began to return in small quantities thanks to the prohibition of fishing in parts of the site, which allowed them to increase their food sources.

However, “residential waste from those areas, if not properly treated, will greatly impact the ecological systemwhich includes coral reefs,” Thanh said.

Single-use plastic is banned from tourist boats and the bay’s administrative board says that the use of plastic has been reduced by 90% on ships, although land-generated trash still covers parts of the beach.

The plastic crisis

Pham Van Tuand a local guide, says that visitors complain a lot: “They read that Halong Bay is beautiful, but when they see the floating garbage, they don’t want to swim or kayak“.

Rapid economic growth and changing lifestyles in Vietnam have caused a “plastic pollution crisis”he explains world Bank.

In Vietnam, according to a 2022 report, up to 3.1 million tons of garbage are generated each year, of which at least 10% seeps into waterways. This figure, warns the World Bank, could double by 2030.

According to the criteria of

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