Fishermen in Bình Định Province collect trash from sea for shore

Not only are they kicking their own habit of littering at sea, fishermen in Bình Định are also collecting waste and bringing it ashore as part of efforts to clean up the ocean.

After a 20-day trip at sea to the fishing grounds off Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, vessel BD-99028TS captained by Nguyễn Văn Lai of Bình Định Province, returned to Quy Nhơn City with 18 tonnes of striped fish and 50 ocean tuna.

It also brought 13kg of plastic waste collected from the sea to hand over to the Quy Nhơn Fishing Port plastic waste collection team for recycling.

Trash collected by a fishing vessl off Bình Định Province brought to shore for recycling. Photo

Not only are they kicking their own habit of littering at sea, fishermen in Bình Định Province are also collecting waste and bringing it ashore as part of efforts to clean up the ocean.

Lai said this was the second time he and his crew had collected and brought waste to shore.

"When we were educated and given waste bags we gradually become more aware and stopped throwing trash into the sea,” he told

“After eating and drinking, we put the trash in bags and bring it ashore. We always tell each other [not to throw waste in the sea] to raise awareness of environmental protection."

Phan Thanh Trưởng, 52, of Đống Đa Ward in Quy Nhon City, owner of fishing boat BD-91052 TS, said about a recent trip: "This trip was very meaningful because we not only caught a large amount of fish but also brought back a lot of trash and empty cans and bottles from the sea.”

His vessel brought back more than 13kg of plastic waste and he sold it for VNĐ4,000 (16 US cent) per kilogramme.

The trash is exactly what fishermen discard during a trip to sea, he said.

"I always remind my crew while fishing offshore not to throw trash into the sea but to collect them in a bag and bring back.”

Ngô Minh Châu, 50, of Hoài Nhơn Township, who owns boat BD-99146 TS, recently brought back 22kg of plastic waste.

His family has four fishing boats with 40 crew members, and all collect plastic waste from sea as part of the programme which Bình Định authorities recently launched.

"When Bình Định Province launched the plastic waste recycling model, I immediately supported it because it was so meaningful.

“For a long time fishermen mostly dumped waste into the sea, but now I feel guilty about the act.

“Actually [it] is wasteful because the plastic can be recycled.”

Nguyễn Văn Luyến, a veteran fisherman, said: "The fact that the fishermen agreed to bring the waste to shore is a meaningful action that contributes to creating an unpolluted marine environment.”

Nguyễn Thị Minh Lệ, head of plastic waste collection at the port, said the programme began in November last year, and so far 102kg of waste has been brought back by 10 fishing vessels.

The waste includes plastic bottles of various colours, bottle caps and other types of packaging, she said.

"We classify and sell the waste … for recycling.”

Đào Xuân Thiện, the port’s director, said: "We always encourage fishermen to bring waste from the sea, which will help spread the message to people living near the port.

“They see that ocean trash is brought ashore, and realise people must be responsible for protecting the environment and not litter.”

The person who co-opted boat owners is Dr Trần Văn Vinh, deputy director of the province Department of Fisheries.

Vinh said an investigation in 2021 by the department found that a majority of fishing boats threw plastic waste directly into the sea, with each generating 10-15kg of plastic waste per trip of 15-20 days.

Thus, with province’s 3,200 boats discharged a combined four tonnes over a single trip.

From the study he came up with the idea of​​ fishing vessels salvaging plastic waste.

He developed specialised funnel-shaped mesh bags and other garbage collection tools to supply the boats.

"The tools are very simple and familiar to fishermen. If they are damaged, fishermen can repair them themselves or even make new bags from the discarded fishing gear.

“The bags are designed to hang from the boats, and so do not take up much space, and hold the trash securely.”

The programme was recognised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which funded tests and production of plastic waste sorting machines and compactors for recycling.

Since November over 200 boats trialled the programme.

After a successful pilot, the programme is set to be expanded to sign up all 3,200 fishing boats in the province, Vinh added.

Source: VNS

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