Ha Long Bay boat owners commit to plastic-free cruises

August 26, 2022
Photo by Amy Rollo on Unsplash

Quang Ninh, August 26, 2022 - The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Viet Nam and the Farmers' Association of Quang Ninh province hold a workshop to promote public awareness of marine plastic waste and action against single-use plastic products in Hạ Long Bay, a world natural heritage site. At the workshop, boat owners committed not to use single-use plastics on their cruises.

The workshop was attended by representatives of the local Government, including the Farmers' Union, Women's Union, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Tourism, Ha Long City People's Committee, Ha Long Bay Management Board, Tuan Chau authority, cruise ship owners operating in Ha Long Bay and UNDP.

Quang Ninh province is famous for being endowed with rich natural resources and diverse landscapes with beautiful sea and island environments. It is the number one priority choice of domestic and international tourists. However, according to the EPPIC 2020 project, the Ha Long Bay area has 28,283 tons of plastic waste generated each year, of which about 5,272 tons of plastic waste can be leaked into the ocean; Every day, 34 tons of waste are generated from tourism activities. In addition to causing water pollution and degradation of ecosystems, floating plastic waste also affects the tourist landscape of the heritage site.

Environmental protection is not only the responsibility of any ministry, department, branch, or Government at all levels, social organizations, but also needs the participation of the whole political system of the entire society, businesses, communities, and most importantly, the consciousness of each citizen. In particular, the tourism industry plays a huge role in protecting the marine environment, with many cruise ships operating on the seas and islands here. A synchronous system of solutions is needed to minimize the harmful effects of plastic waste.
Mr. Patrick Haverman, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, said, "plastics account for an estimated 70-80 percent of marine debris. While many countries have made considerable efforts to fight plastic waste, challenges caused by marine plastics are transboundary."

Under a Norwegian Embassy-funded project on scaling up community-based models of domestic waste and plastics management, the UNDP has developed integrated, green, and equal models for improving the household waste management system.

He noted that it has also worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to implement the EPPIC project in four ASEAN countries: Việt Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Nguyễn Văn Dương, deputy chairman of the Quảng Ninh Farmers' Union, said, "environmental protection requires the engagement of the entire political system, society, businesses, and the community, adding that each people's awareness is the most important factor."

Dương noted, "a project had been implemented in the areas bordering Hạ Long Bay since 2020 to build community-based waste management, sorting, collection, and treatment model. The project, funded by the UNDP, the Global Environment Facility, and the Norwegian Government, has helped improve local authorities, businesses, and residents' awareness and capacity."

At the workshop, participants shared views on marine environmental protection, the role of each organisation in boosting sustainable tourism, and activities carried out in localities to ease the impacts of tourism vessels and single-use plastic products on the environment.

Mr. Dao Manh Luong, Head of the Ha Long cruise ship, remarked, "Although tourism benefits businesses, it also causes significant environmental damage. And now, we are moving toward a tourism model that benefits locals and protects the environment. We will need to promote and distribute more to raise people's awareness. Our cruise ship association is committed to avoiding using disposable plastic products in tourism service activities on Ha Long Bay, thereby enhancing the quality and reputation of Ha Long tourism. We have more than sixty waste sorting units at present."

In addition, UNDP in Vietnam introduced everyone to the "Trash Hunt" application (http://sanrac.undp.org.vn), a mobile application used to report and monitor all landfills. Contrary to Vietnam's regulations, garbage is generated spontaneously. Users can take photos and record information about illegal garbage spots on the application's map, thereby assisting local authorities, stakeholders, and individuals in timely cleaning.

For more information, please kindly contact:
Phan Hương Giang
UNDP CCE Media and Communications Analyst,
Email: phan.huong.giang@undp.org; Mob: 0948466688