08 Jun 2018 Featured Article Oceans & seas

School children team up with UN and NGOs to clean up Busan beach on World Environment Day

Busan, Republic of Korea, 08 June 2018 – On 5 June, celebrating World Environment Day, scores of excited school children defied the rain walking around Busan’s popular Haeundae beach, picking up plastic cups, bottles, discarded fishing gear and other waste littering the seashore.

Eighty junior school students from Busan’s Dong Cheon Elementary School joined the activity organized by the UN Environment Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) in collaboration with Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea (MOF), Korea Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), and OSEAN (Our Sea of East Asia Network), a Korean non-governmental organization (NGO).

About 70 local people together with NOWPAP officials and civil society groups took part in the International Coastal Clean-up Campaign (ICC) on the beach which attracts large number of tourists. They collected 51 kg of litter, including fishing rods, nets and styrofoam boxes. The two-hour event also featured talks by experts and school teachers on marine litter. A special training was organized on how to collect and measure microplastic particles - products of plastic degradation harmful to the marine environment,

“I knew that there was rubbish on the beach, but not this much! I now know that we need to use less plastic,” said 12-year-old Shin Dong Yoon.

The Busan ICC was the latest in a series of such events which NOWPAP organizes annually on the Northwest Pacific beaches of Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

The ICCs are part of the NOWPAP Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter. Launched in March 2008, the goal of ICC is to prevent the entry of litter into seas and coasts, monitor marine litter quantities and its distribution, and remove/dispose marine litter.

Annual marine litter management workshops and ICCs are held in each NOWPAP country in collaboration with NGOs. “I sincerely hope that NOWPAP member states can work toward fruitful and concrete outcomes,” said Mr. Seung Hwan Cho, Deputy Minister for Marine Policy Office, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea.

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Considering that the beaches in the region are mostly littered by non-degradable waste such as plastics and polystyrene coming from land- and sea-based sources from fisheries and aquaculture, NOWPAP is raising public awareness about the adverse environmental, health and economic impact of poor waste management by widely distributing brochures, leaflets, posters and guidelines on marine litter in local languages.

“We believe that working with the local community, we can indeed #BeatPlasticPollution”, says Dr. Lev Neretin, NOWPAP Coordinator.