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Find Pearls, Make Necklaces: Hainan Calls for Plastic-free Ocean

Updated:2022-05-05 11:56:47   HICN

A final seminar on building a diversified co-governance model for marine litter was held in Haikou on April 29, following the conclusion of the ‘Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter’ (also called ‘Fishing for Litter’) pilot project conducted in Hainan. The seminar put forward a proposal - a call to action to work together to promote the ‘Plastic-free Ocean’ initiative.

Hosted by Hainan Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, the seminar was attended by representatives from government departments, national and international experts, and fishermen, both in-person and online.


On April 29, the seminar on the co-governance of marine waste was held in Haikou, Hainan Province. ZHOU MI

The ‘Fishing for Litter' pilot projects in Hainan were officially launched at Changhua Fishing Port in Changjiang and Yazhou Fishing Port in Sanya respectively on February 9 last year, through which an approach was established whereby fishery workers were engaged in bringing back waste collected as bycatch in their nets to fishing ports for further disposal. This approach has been proved internationally to be a proper solution to developing an effective and sustainable governance model for marine litter.

The projects were co-funded by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany, and implemented by Hainan Research Academy of Environmental Sciences with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Expertise France.

Sébastien Paquot, Head of Section for Climate Action and Environment of the EU Delegation to China, stated at the seminar that he was impressed about what Hainan has achieved in the 'Fishing for Litter' pilot projects. He regarded this island province as the perfect place for such research and pilots in China, and hoped to see more progress in reducing marine litter so that fishery workers can catch more fish in their nets in the future.


Fishers at Changhua Port bring back waste collected as bycatch in their nets. LIU XIAO

According to Lü Shuguo, Researcher at the Academy and Head of the pilot project, the biggest challenge in implementing the project lied in negotiations with different potential actors involved in the project, primarily the fishery workers. “Most of our job over the past year was to find such ‘pearls’ and to link them together into ‘necklaces’,” said Lü at the seminar.

Zhong Qiangbin, who has been engaged in fishing at Changhua Port for about 20 years, was the first volunteer at the port to join the project. “I’ve frequently noticed the marine litter, especially the plastic waste, that was part of the bycatch in my nets and which has a negative effect on our fishing,” Zhong shared his experience during the discussion.

The project saw an increase of volunteer fishery workers from 10 vessels at the beginning to 62 vessels at present - involving nearly 200 fishermen - directly participating in reducing marine litter. In addition, more actors from all walks of life are engaged in the governance of marine waste, ranging from an 85-year-old volunteer who helped stitch special trash bags for the fishermen to the school children drawing pictures about the 'Plastic-free Ocean' movement.

Statistics show that there are about 25,000 fishing boats scattered among Hainan's 44 main fishing ports, with roughly 220,000 people engaged in the fishing industry. Having achieved success at Changhua and Yazhou ports, the pilot project has been included as a key task in its marine ecosystem protection plan for the next five years by the provincial government, with a further target to build Hainan into a 'Plastic-free Ocean' demonstration area.

Marine plastic litter is a serious challenge for today's world. Another initiative at the seminar proposed that Hainan should continue to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN, the EU and other international organizations to develop better solutions to the global governance of marine litter.

Keywords:   Hainan Calls Plastic-free Ocean