British Diver Videotapes Plastic Waste Underwater
Diver Rich Horner was attempting to capture video of Manta Rays off the island of Nusa Penida, about 20km from the popular holiday island of Bali in Indonesia, when he became submerged in plastic waste. ‘Plastic, plastic, plastic’: exclaimed Horner while filming the sea of rubbish.
Free Divers Training in Bali surrounding by Plastic Waste
Competitive diver Julia Wheeler posted this video of being surrounded by plastic garbage while she and a fellow diver were free diving in Indonesian waters off the coast of Bali. Julia estimates that they were surrounded by nearly 3 tons of floating garbage. Wheeler hopes that this video will serve as a wake-up call, alerting the world to the vast amount of plastic that is now drowning our ocean.
Original Article from January 19, 2018
Years ago, I spent some time on the Island of Bali in Indonesia and thought that it was about as close to a paradise as one could find. I had traveled a lot so that assessment had some legs. What struck me about Bali was not only the sublime beauty of the island. It has volcanoes, temples, terraced rice fields and beautiful beaches (I was living near one). The dignity of its people and the depth and resiliency of its culture sticks with me from Indonesia.
Consequently, it has been a shock to read recent reports of the environmental problems confronting Bali today. In Kayaking the World’s Most Polluted River I wrote about Gary and Sam Bencheghib. They are two brothers and environmentalists extraordinaire, who kayaked down the Citarum River in West Java. Many experts consider Citarum to be the world’s most polluted river. (photo – Jakarta Post)
Bali Beach Clean-Ups
Gary and Sam grew up on Bali. While surfing off the island’s south coast, a sea of garbage engulfed them.
The experience so motivated the brothers that they organized weekly beach clean-ups. These events grew into Make a Change Bali, a grassroots community effort including local schools and businesses. (photo – Zak Noyle Surfer Mag)
The brothers have now taken on much bigger problems, including grossly polluted rivers in other parts of Indonesia. They are getting results like commitments from the government to clean up their act.
Garbage Emergency in Bali
But back on Bali, more needs to be done. In fact, so much more remains that the island’s officials have declared a “garbage emergency.” Bali’s Kuta beach has always been a mecca for sun and surf seeking international tourists. Now they must wade through the ever-present garbage washing in with the tide.
“When I want to swim, it is not really nice. I see a lot of garbage here every day, every time,” explains Vanessa Moonshine visiting from Europe. “It’s always coming from the ocean. It’s really horrible.”
Famous Beaches Trashed
Along a 6 km stretch of the island’s most famous beaches, 700 cleaners scoop up about 100 tons of waste. 35 trucks haul it to nearby landfills every day! Efforts are especially needed during the monsoon season when strong winds push rubbish onto Bali’s beaches.
Not all debris is homegrown. Much of the trash comes from surrounding islands especially populous Java, a short boat ride away. (photo – the news.com.au)
The garbage is not only a repugnant eyesore to tourists, it is also a huge health hazard. As plastic waste breaks down from the sun and surf, it forms microplastics that contaminate fish consumed by both tourists and locals.
Indonesia Commits 70% By 2025
Indonesia has committed to the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign and has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70% by the year 2025. The country’s plan envisions recycling, reducing the use of plastic bags, launching garbage clean-ups and raising public awareness.
However, with a population exceeding 250 million and very little waste-processing infrastructure, they have a long way to go and little time to get there. Let’s hope for the sake of the ocean and the world that they succeed.
Five Countries and Ten Rivers
Two related statistics from different stories crossed my desk and stuck in my brain–little else does. The Daily Mail reported that 95% of the world’s plastic pollution flows from only 10 of the world’s rivers. This waste is linked to the ‘mismanagement of plastic waste in their watersheds.’ Eight of the waterways, including the Yangtze and Ganges, are in Asia. The Niger and the Nile, also named as polluters, are in Africa.
To reach this conclusion, researchers pulled data from dozens of studies. This data showed that nearly 727 MILLION pounds of plastic is dumped by the Yangtze River into the sea every year. While even more – about 1.2 BILLION pounds flows each year from the Ganges River in India. (For efforts on how Indian states deal with unmitigated pollution, see our series: To Save Mother Ganga, the River Ganges Is Made Human)
These horrifying statistics bring to mind the second story, one that we reported on in our post: Could 5 countries solve 50% of the world’s Ocean Plastic Pollution? China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are said to “contribute more than half of the oceans’ plastic since their waste infrastructure hasn’t kept up with rapid industrialization.”
If we can concentrate international efforts and pressure on the five countries and ten rivers that contribute the overwhelming mass of the world’s plastic pollution, we may have a chance to curb the flow of pollution before it reaches the sea.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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