Washington, D.C. – Ocean Conservancy has been awarded a grant by the Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation to pilot waste capture systems in Vietnam’s Song Hong River. In partnership with the Vietnam-based Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), Ocean Conservancy will install five plastics capture devices at several locations along the Song Hong River (also known as the Red River) in the coastal province of Nam Dinh – the heart of the Red River Delta World Biosphere Reserve – while also working with local officials and others in the community to tackle plastic pollution at the source. Given the global coronavirus pandemic, fieldwork on the project will begin as soon as health authorities deem it safe for all involved to travel and participate.
“Research shows that large rivers, like the Song Hong, are major pathways of plastic pollution to the ocean,” said senior director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program Nicholas Mallos. “We are thrilled to engage with MCD on the ground, and in the water, to make a difference for both our ocean and the local community. Everyone deserves access to clean, healthy waterways, and this is a step in that direction.”
“The widespread plastic waste in our world’s waterways is a major environmental health challenge that will require the greatest minds, technology and science to solve. The Benioff Ocean Initiative has the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest problem-solvers when it comes to addressing issues like this,” said Molly Morse, the Benioff Ocean Initiative’s plastics program lead. “We are thrilled to work with Ocean Conservancy and support their efforts in the Nam Dinh community to clean up plastic waste, catalyze societal change and generate valuable data.”
Under the grant, Ocean Conservancy and MCD, together with other local partners, will manage the construction and deployment of five devices, conduct outreach to local stakeholders on waste management best practices and implement a public awareness campaign. The prototype for the waste capture device was designed as part of a 2018-2020 USAID-funded project executed by MCD and its partners to develop low-cost, innovative solutions to improve waste management.
The waste collected from the devices will be sorted and examined to better understand the sources of litter with help from Ocean Conservancy science advisor and University of Toronto Assistant Professor Dr. Chelsea Rochman. In 2019, Dr. Rochman piloted NOAA’s Marine Debris Shoreline Survey in Xuan Thuy National Park with MCD and local authorities. Dr. Rochman has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris in marine and freshwater habitats for more than a decade.
Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of the fight against ocean plastics for 35 years. Since 1986, the organization’s International Coastal Cleanup has mobilized more than 16 million volunteers to remove over 325 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the globe, building the world’s largest marine debris database along the way. Ocean Conservancy also helped catalyze the landmark research showing that 8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year from land due to mismanaged waste – waste that is either never collected or not properly contained.
“We know that reducing plastics production and improving waste management infrastructure in rapidly growing countries like Vietnam is critical to solving this global problem,” said Mallos. “Vietnam has shown tremendous leadership in this space, from pledging to reduce their national ocean plastics output by 75% to passing bans on unnecessary single-use plastics, and Ocean Conservancy is excited to be working on the ground to help meet these targets.”
In addition to Ocean Conservancy, eight river cleanup programs across the world have been selected to receive a total of $11 million over the next three years as part of a unique partnership between The Coca-Cola Foundation and the Benioff Ocean Initiative at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute.
ABOUT OCEAN CONSERVANCY
Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org , or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
ABOUT THE BENIOFF OCEAN INITIATIVE
Benioff Ocean Initiative, based at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute, merges science and technology to improve ocean health. The initiative was brought to life in 2016 through a $10 million gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff to promote science-based ocean problem solving at UC Santa Barbara. For more information, visit boi.ucsb.edu, or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.
ABOUT THE CENTRE FOR MARINELIFE CONSERVATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
MCD is a leading Vietnamese NGO in the field of coastal and marine ecosystem conservation, striving for a coastal zone of Vietnam with healthy ecosystems and a good quality of life for coastal communities, especially the most vulnerable. MCD commits to promoting active cooperation between related stakeholders, implementing initiatives that integrate local knowledge and international experiences, in order to better manage coastal ecosystems and improve coastal communities’ living conditions, contributing to sustainable development of the coastal zone. They have been an International Coastal Cleanup partner of Ocean Conservancy for a number of years and were integral to convening advisors for the Vietnamese government in the development of the new National Action Plan for Marine Plastic Waste Management to 2030.