Raising awereness about the issue of marine debris and demonstrate effective waste management measures that can be implemented in Pacific Islands Countries
Marine litter and debris is an increasing key area of concern for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). Injury and fatality to marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris is on the rise. Aesthetically, the Pacific Island beaches, often reliant on tourism are increasingly showing signs of marine litter washing ashore; from both ship based and land based sources. Ship based marine litter includes fishing lines and nets. Once abandoned or lost at sea, floating in the ocean and washing into the coast the nets fish indiscriminately and may trap protected and threatened species. Turtles, in particular, are vulnerable to trapping in ghost nets. Ships’ waste reception facilities are also not up to the required MARPOL standards in many pacific island ports and could contribute to illegal dumping of ships’ waste.
The third global conference for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held in Apia, Samoa in September 2014. The UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) provided support, through the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, for a waste minimization demonstration project in Samoa to demonstrate best practice measures for effective waste management and minimisation of marine debris. A brief overview of the work carried out under the project can be seen below.
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The project is a partnership between the Government of Samoa, UNEP/ GPA and the GPML, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the communities and private sector in Apia. The project included four main components: community and media awareness; improved waste management in the ports of entry into Samoa in particular the Samoa Port and Samoa Airport; waste disposal facilities within the UNSIDS venue and the accommodation providers; and working with the communities to improve waste practices in Apia areas. This also included e.g. provision of litter booms in major contributory rivers and upscaling of waste through craft workshops.
Community and media awareness
Waste management is a major issue for pacific island countries. There is a need for continued public awareness and demonstration projects to improve community awareness and knowledge of how to effectively and safely manage waste.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Health and the Samoa Tourism Authority, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPMl), launched a campaign to help address the forecast increase in waste generated during the SIDS Conference, with an eye to improve waste management practices beyond the conference.
Watch the tv spot:
Communication materials and TV spots were prepared and broadcasted through national media channels and the entertainment systems of the SIDS conference venue.
Samoa's initiative to end marine litter was highlighted at a side event led by the UNEP and SPREP during the third SIDS Conference in Apia this week. Titled "The Last Straw – preventing our oceans from becoming dumps", the side event noted the huge environmental, aesthetic and commercial impacts of pollution from marine debris and litter.
Improved waste management in the ports of entry into Samoa
Awereness raising efforts needs to be coupled with the provision of facilities and services to manage these wastes. Currently many of these wastes end up in the ocean as a result of sub-standard facilities and management practices.
Therefore, a waste management programme was established at the Samoa Ports Authority. Authority officials were trained on how to best deal with the extra waste generated by the conference.
In the framework of Samoa's efforts to green the SIDS conference, athree-day specialised training programme in the management of oil spills has culminated in the spectacular deployment of a containment boom around the Pacific Jewel cruise ship, docked in Apia Harbour for the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Installation of waste disposal facilities within the UNSIDS venue and the accommodation providers
In the framework of the project, a waste audit took place in March in over 40 Samoan hotels and other accommodation venues and ports of entry to be used during the Conference. The survey results showed that when fully occupied, between 7 and 70 large trash bags of waste can be generated per week from each venue.
Waste disposal facilities were installed at the SIDS Conference venue and to ensure that the waste generated during the SIDS conference was properly managed.
As part of the SIDS waste management preparations, a technical workshop was also held to help develop a waste management process for the SIDS conference. The workshop assisted hotel managers and stakeholders to improve waste management practices and methods for the SIDS conference. The goal was to showcase Samoa as a clean and green healthy island.
Over the course of the workshop, results from the audit of waste management practices at the UNSIDS accommodation providers and ports of entry were presented to participants.
Participants were also provided with information on a range of waste management techniques, as well as the waste management services provided by the Government of Samoa.
The results of the waste audit will also be presented to the SIDS Committee and policy decision making system of the Government to help put in place better waste management systems for the SIDS Conference and beyond.Read the SPREP article
Working with the communities to improve waste practices in Apia areas
SPREP ran community-led activities, which included a clean-up of the Mulivai and Vaisigano rivers, community beach clean-ups, provision of trash stands and a waste craft training for women's groups.
Members of the Fugalei SISDAC Women's committee, the Tuaefu women's committee, the Pan-Pacific South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA), and Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI) had the opportunity to attend workshops on waste-craft - refashioning rubbish into beautiful and sought-after consumer items. In other Pacific island countries such as Fiji, the practice has proven to be a huge success - not just in terms of raising awareness of sound waste management practices but also in providing income to many communities from the sale of items created from the waste materials.
A temporary boom has been placed across the mouth of Apia's Vaisigano River. This boom, together three others to be installed at Apia's major rivers, will help prevent litter and debris from entering Apia harbour and the marina during the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (UNSIDS) and beyond. The boom is 120m long and has a buoyant top with a net suspended below into the water. River water is able to pass through the netting whilst capturing the rubbish. MNRE, with the support of the local community, will look after the booms to ensure they it is effectively used. As a result, communities are taking charge of dealing with the waste problem.