On December 16, the UNDP/GEF YSLME Phase II Project (hereinafter referred to as YSLME II Project) organized a workshop on prevention and control of marine litter in Weihai City of Shandong Province, PR China, in collaboration with Shandong Marine Resources and Environment Institute. Fifteen representatives from Weihai Ocean Development Bureau, Weihai Ecology and Environment Bureau, National Marine Environment Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, BlueRibbon Ocean Conservation Association (BROCA), and Shanghai Rendu Ocean NPO Development Center participated in the workshop. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Yinfeng Guo, Chief Technical Adviser of the YSLME II Project.
Dr. Huo Cheng from National Marine Environment Monitoring Center presented the study on the sources of marine microplastics and proposed management measures at national level. According to a study in 2018 by Chinese scientist, each year some 712,800 – 978,300 tons of plastics are discharged into the sea deriving from improperly sheltered coastal garbage storage facilities, agricultural use, fisheries and aquaculture and beaches in coastal cities and from rivers. Various laws and regulations have provisions pertinent to solid wastes but there are no specific laws and regulations nor action plans on prevention and control of marine litter at national level. Coordination mechanism among different ministries in addressing marine litter synergistically is not yet in place. Sustainable financial mechanism to collect, recycle and reuse solid waste in counties and townships and on islands, improvement in solid waste storage facilities, and collection system for plastics and other solid waste from agricultural use, mariculture and fisheries and non-recreational areas are the continuous challenges in the prevention and control of marine litter in the years ahead.
Shandong Marine Resources and Environment Institute presented the results of the consultancy supported by YSLME II Project on marine litter prevention and control in Weihai. Plastics is identified as the key sources of marine litter in Weihai while there is no estimate of the quantity of the plastics entering the sea each year. The meeting was impressed by the coordination mechanism in the prevention and control of marine litter benefiting from the adoption of municipal landscape and seascape protection regulation and Weihai coastal area protection regulations, designation of Weihai as a demonstration city of marine ecological civilization and the establishment of sisterhood cooperation with New York city. Weihai is noteworthy in the control of agriculture-sourced plastics through the collection of plastics left over in 30,000 hectares of agricultural land, and promotion of the use of recyclable agricultural plastics in 7,000 hectares of farmland. Through the coastal and island restoration projects, a total of 590,000 cubic meters of debris were collected and treated. In 2016 and 2017, garbage classification system was introduced covering 8 communities, 29 schools and 20 institutions. To promote the marine litter reduction, financial inventive measures for collection and recycling of plastics are yet to be strengthened to further engage private sector investment through public-private partnership.
Shanghai Rendu Ocean CPO Development Center shared the results of the study on status of fisheries-derived beach debris in the coastal areas in the Yellow Sea with contribution from trained local civic groups. Based on the survey of 3 replications at 9 sites along the Yellow Sea coastline from May to September 2019, it was found that the average distribution of fishery-based beach debris was 1,249 count per 300 meter and 30,668 g per 300 meters. Foam fragments are the most common debris in terms of count (48.3%) and weight (36.0%), followed by fishing net in terms of count (18.2%) and weight (31.9%). The main sources of the items could be the floats to position near installation, combining with bamboo sticks and ropes for aquaculture. The study suggested to initiate collection system for discarded foams from fisheries and mariculture operations, identification of alternatives to floats or substitute with more durable materials, support to recycling enterprises and awareness raising of the fisheries communities.
Finally, BlueRibbon Ocean Conservation Association (BROCA) introduced the results of the project to reduce solid waste in Jingzi Village of Weihai as a demonstration project supported by Yellow Sea Grant Program under the YSLME II Project. On the basis of identified sources of household waste which consist of solid waste, kitchen waste and others, the project introduced classification system of solid waste for collection for recycling by Yueneng Recycling Enterprise, collection of household organic waste through collaboration with Shandong Weihai Mingliu Household Organic Waste Recycling Company, supported with awareness raising, outreach and education programs in the village. During the 4 months project cycle, 180 households (42 percent of all households) centralized the disposal 3,373 kg of kitchen waste into the facility donated by Mingliu Household Organic Waste Recycling Company for production of fertilizers, biodiesels and feed additives. Recyclable solid wastes were collected from over 100 household to subsequent recycling by Yueneng Recycling Enterprise. Partnership with Korean and local NGOs such as OSEAN and Huayi Volunteers, schools such as Ivy School and Shandong University, recycling companies and village leaders contributed to the success of the demonstration in waste reduction and reuuse. The Project has contributed to the reduction of 4,000 kg of waste, and results were able to be sustained through the partnership established through the demonstration.
The workshop ended with a discussion on next steps to prevent and control marine litter in Weihai. Highlights of the discussion are as follows:
- Marine litter is not included in the routine survey in Weihai City, and therefore it is useful to have a baseline survey. In particular there is a need for seabed survey of marine litter. The research of Shandong Marine Resources and Environment Institute, Rendu and BROCA complements the sources of information on status of marine litter and therefore is very welcome.
- Jinzi Village is a very representative village in coastal areas of Weihai and their experiences can be replicated to other villages.
- To address the marine litter from fisheries and mariculture sector in Weihai, which is a key revenue generator in the city, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs will support a project with an amount of CNY100 million to develop durable floats to replace existing short-lived floats in mariculture. Exchanges of experiences in development in the alternatives to plastic floats, such as biodegradable floats, is an area for further cooperation between China and RO Korea under the framework of the YSLME.
- Collection of seashells such as from oysters from household and restaurants and subsequent reuse and recycling is also as area for future exploration in Weihai and other coastal cities.
- Monitoring of land-based sources of marine litter in particular plastics is necessary and collaboration with NGOs and other partners is needed given the limited government capacity in resources and monitoring.
- Monitoring and collection of debris in non-recreational coastal areas should be considered as a priority in the future.
- While the governments should play key roles in prevention and control of marine litter, the roles of public welfare institutions can be critical as well on account of their technical expertise and capacity in monitoring. Partnership between government and private sector can be a variable solution to development and recycling solid waste and kitchen organic waste through market-based mechanisms.
All the four organizations shared a 1,000-word summary report in Chinese of their studies and demonstration supported by YSLME II Project to government representatives for easy reference in future planning and programming of resources. For more information about the YSLME approaches to addressing marine litter, please contact Mr. Yinfeng Guo, CTA/Manger of the YSLME II Project at email@example.com.