Clean Seas campaign celebrates two years

The UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign is celebrating its second year in the fight against plastic pollution.

Launched in February 2017 with the aim of engaging governments, the general public and the private sectors, the Clean Seas campaign highlights the threat of marine plastic pollution and the world’s ongoing battle to rectify the issue.

Two years on, 57 countries, including Argentina and Yemen, have joined, pledging to cut back on single-use plastics, protect waterways and enforce recycling.

In a recent release, Clean Seas stated, “The campaign now represents the world’s largest global alliance for combatting marine plastic pollution with commitments covering more than 60 per cent of the world’s coastlines.”

The campaign has resulted in more than 100,000 people taking the pledge to reduce their plastic consumption, with many using the social media hashtag #CleanSeas and #BeatPlasticPollution on Twitter and Instagram to demonstrate their support.

Latin America and the Caribbean have been at the forefront of this global movement, with Ecuador among the 17 countries in the region that have joined the Clean Seas campaign.

Leo Heileman, UN Environment’s regional director in Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “The countries and citizens of Latin America and the Caribbean are taking bold and exemplary steps to beat plastic pollution and protect their valuable marine resources.

“Governments are regulating single-use plastics by passing several bans and citizens are taking action through massive clean-ups and campaigns. But we need more efforts from industry to find innovative alternatives to plastic.”

The Galápagos Islands – 600 miles off Ecuador’s coast – have an extremely high level of biodiversity, but remain under threat due to the high amount of plastic pollution.

“We have seen pelicans, iguanas and sea lions caught in plastic bags, nets and ropes,” stated Jorge Carrión, director of the Galápagos National Park. “When the plastic breaks down into microplastics, it can enter the food chain: the fish eat it and then human consumption could be affected.”

Island authorities have introduced laws to ban single-use plastics, such as straws and bags, with volunteers and fisherman helping to clean remote beaches.

The significant amount of plastic pollution has resulted in further initiatives around the world taking action to combat the problem. Non-profit organisation Clear Ocean Pact aims to reduce the amount of single-use plastic pollution inflicted by the yachting industry. The organisation aims to have 1000 superyachts pledged by November 2020.

Meanwhile, Australia-based organisation The SeaBin Project, producers of floating plastic waste interception devices, are installing a number of SeaBins in ports and marinas around the world.