10 Nov Dragons to Debris Expedition in the Lesser Sunda Islands
CTC joined an expedition to the Lesser Sunda Islands on November 1-10, 2016 organized by the Oceanic Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and the Drifters Project to look at the impact of mismanaged plastic waste in the oceans.
The expedition covered Padang Bay, Gili Air, Gili Meno, Moyo, Satonda, Sangeang and the Komodo National Park including Rinca, Padar, and Gili Lawa islands.
During the trip, the team encountered large amounts plastic waste on land and on the water in areas that are frequented by tourists as well as those in remote parts with very few inhabitants. The most common plastic waste found was single-use plastic waster cups, straws, food packaging, and plastic bags. In remote islands, most of the plastic waste were burned as there was no other waste disposal mechanism available.
“I think the problem of plastic pollution is a complex systemic problem and we need to approach it in a holistic way looking at all the different elements and parts. I also feel strongly now after the expedition, that it is extremely important for us all to engage local government, national governments, industry, the tourism businesses – we have to engage every player in this, because plastic pollution affects everyone. Plastic pollution knows no boundaries,” said Diana Cohen, co-founder and executive Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition, a network of more than 500 organizations world-wide working against single-use plastic and plastic waste.
Expedition participants also met encouraging local community-based initiatives that are trying to address plastic pollution. These include a community waste bank in Ampenan and a community-led regular beach clean up in Pulau Moyo. For its part, CTC will continue to work with various partners to raise awareness and stem the tide of plastic pollution in the ocean, and the importance of managing plastic waste especially in marine protected areas where marine life breed and feed.
“We go around the world to visit all these different places and every 5-6 years we’re seeing them change when we go back. I think one of the things that’s becoming clear to me as a conservationist and a group leader of eco-tourism is that awareness is no longer enough. We need to turn that awareness into personal behavior change and commitments and action and we need to do it quickly to protect these places which we think are special,” said Wayne Sentman, Oceanic Society’s Director of Travel Conservation Programs and the expedition’s leader.
(Photos courtesy of Leilani Gallardo)