Thailand pledges to cut sea debris 50 percent by 2027


Thailand is going true blue. The Kingdom is taking a leadership role in protecting the planet by pledging to reduce debris dumped into the oceans by at least 50 percent by 2027 and urged its neighbors to follow suit during a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Marine Debris in Bangkok last week.

Ocean resources are often referred to as the ‘blue economy,’ and as a nation with coastlines on two oceans Thailand relies on the blue economy. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the meeting that marine resources are a crucial source of wealth and livelihoods. The seas provide about 19 percent of gross domestic product for the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Thailand has been taking a more aggressive approach to marine debris and plastic waste since June 2018 when a pilot whale washed up and died on a southern Thai beach. The whale had consumed over 80 plastic bags that clogged its digestive tract and caused it to starve to death. The plight of the whale was evidence of the mounting environmental damage done by waste and moved the public to call for action.

“On a national level, Thailand has taken a proactive approach, especially on marine debris, of which 80 percent is land-based. Thailand has announced a target to reduce marine debris by at least 50 percent by 2027, through applying the principle of the circular economy,” the statement from the Prime Minister said.

“Marine destruction causes severe damage to economies, tourism, and fishing in the region,’’ Prayut said.

ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi agreed with Prime Minister Prayut and said that tackling marine debris requires urgent regional cooperation. Sixty percent of global marine debris originates from four ASEAN countries, he said. Indonesia, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Thailand are those countries ranked in order of how much trash they are dumping.

The ten member states agreed to work on formulating a regional action plan that they aim to introduce for endorsement at the ASEAN summit this year in Thailand.

“The meeting was very active in discussing the best practices in each country for dealing with the problem,” said Gen. Surasak Kanchanarat, Natural Resources, and Environment Minister.