According to the Vietnam Institute of Seas and Islands under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), plastic waste accounts for between 50% and 80% of marine waste. Currently, Vietnam is ranked fourth among the five countries which have the biggest volume of plastic waste in their seas, with a volume of between 0.28 and 0.73 million tonnes per year (equivalent to around 6% of the world’s total plastic waste discharged into the sea).
According to the experts, the main sources of pollution related to marine plastic waste in Vietnam include land-based waste sources and marine-based waste sources from activities such shipping, fishing, natural incidents, floating trash at sea and other activities. On the other hand, over recent years, the marine tourism industry has developed strongly, attracting hundreds of millions of domestic and foreign tourists each year. Thus, the volume of plastic waste discharged by tourists to Vietnam’s marine tourism areas is forecasted to be more than 206,000 tonnes by the end of 2020, of which nearly 40% will be discharged into the sea. Many beautiful beaches such as Ha Long Bay, or some islands such as Cat Ba, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, and Cu Lao Cham, are facing the risk of environmental pollution, especially an increasing amount of plastic waste. Worryingly, micro-sized (less than five millimeters) plastic waste formed during the manufacturing process, or fragmentation of plastic materials which exist as suspended matter and in seabed sediments do not decompose easily. They easily accumulate in the biological food chain causing a significant impact on marine ecosystems. Large plastic waste such as nets and floating fishing gear also cause serious harm to marine organisms when they become trapped, reducing fishing productivity and causing impacts on the other ocean ecosystems.
Facing this situation, at the end of 2019, the Prime Minister promulgated the National Action Plan on marine plastic waste management by 2030. The action plan hopes that by 2030, the country will have reduced 75% of plastic waste in the ocean, have collected 100% of lost or discarded fishing tools, and have eradicated the direct discharge of fishing tools into the ocean. With this scheme, Vietnam also hopes all tourist sites, tourist accommodation establishments and other tourism service providers in coastal areas will not use disposable plastic products or non-biodegradable plastic bags. Meanwhile, all coastal nature reserves will become free of plastic waste by 2030.