On Saturday, the 24th of October, 2015, a green sea turtle was found dead on Pak Lap Tsai beach in Sai Kung. The long endangered species was found with a large amount of marine litter, including nylon ropes, plastic straps and plastic packaging inside its gut. In late August of 2015, a whale shark was found dead, floating near Cheung Chau. Unfortunately, specialists and the relevant authorities were unable to conduct a necropsy to examine its internal organs, due to environmental restrictions. The deaths of these innocent creatures were all linked to one thing: the pollution of the sea. If we continue to ignore this crisis, Hong Kong will lose its glamorous status as the “Fragrant Harbour” and this is why I stand here today, to persuade you to raise awareness and resolve this predicament.
According to the Hong Kong SAR government, Hong Kong depends on the sea for navigation, recreation, seafood production and the supply of flushing and cooling water. Yupina Ng from The South China Morning Post stated that the amount of plastic waste discarded in Hong Kong every day ranges from 1,200 to 2,000 tonnes, with 5.2 million plastic bottles being discarded per day. Along with all of the waste produced, there is still an unknown volume of debris which litters the sea and is washed up on our beaches. Countries such as Australia, India and the United States have already taken action against the production of single use plastic bottles, with various bans regarding their usage. As reported by Linda Poon of Citylab, an online news channel advocating for sustainable development, Kamikatsu is a town in Japan that has declared its zero-waste ambition after the town gave up the practice of dumping trash and littering for fear of endangering both the environment and the population. Residents sort all their trash into 34 different categories, in order to make the objective happen.
If other cities have the vision to elicit change, why are we incapable of such transformation? It’s time to change, and start modifying the way we live. Now, you might believe that Hong Kong’s average water quality standard is improving, and I agree with that statement. Partially. As stated by the Hong Kong Quality Resource Centre, the water quality in some parts of Hong Kong such as Victoria Harbour and Tolo Harbour are improving under the careful and watchful eye of the government, whilst other places such as Port Shelter and Mirs Bay with excellent water quality have been maintained. The burning question is: Are all places in Hong Kong improving? According to “Around DB”, a magazine documenting environmental changes in the Lantau and Discovery Bay area, the litter crisis that currently affects Hong Kong’s water is appearing to be worsening by the day for places such as Lantau and Aberdeen, and images shared on social media show the devastation that has been wrecked over the territory in recent years. Keep this in mind.
Will you live in the same city, where countless animals fall prey to plastic and other rubbish, or will you fight for change, and live in a city where pristine beaches and oceans are of the norm? If the Hong Kong government were to be firmer with the citizens, and pass new laws regarding the use and disposal of various products, most of the efforts would not go in vain. With the correct mindset, mentality, and methodology, we can all build towards a better, cleaner, pollution free future. Thank You.