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The 2nd Fisheries Management and Marine Environmental Protection Workshop

Kuala Lumpur  
18 September 2018

The above workshop, organised by MIMA in collaboration with the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), focused on marine plastic pollution in the South China Sea (SCS) region and was a follow-up to the meeting held in June in Beijing, China.

Some 50 participants representing government agencies, academe and experts from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam attended. 

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During the meeting

The workshop aimed to enhance cooperative strategies in the SCS in protecting the region’s ecosystems and in promoting the sustainable management of resources, while addressing threats and challenges faced by the respective countries in the process. Plastic pollution in the SCS is one such priority area that cannot be addressed unilaterally, and participating countries have been identified as some of the major polluters in this region. The pollutants that originate from both sea and land in SCS are responsible for significant lethal effects on marine life.

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Group picture

Plastic fragments, for instance, can disperse in the ocean and accumulate in closed bays, gulfs, and even the seas surrounding populated areas. Plastic wastes pollute the ocean by releasing toxins which can enter the human food chain via fish. This occurs due to the adsorption of persistent organic pollutants by plastics which can be transferred into tissues and organs through ingestion. It is also life-threatening to sea creatures which may swallow large pieces of the plastic debris. Such pollution should be targeted in efforts to protect the seas. 

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Workshop participants

The June Beijing meeting noted the importance of establishing a standard methodology for collecting and processing data and the role institutions and informal mechanisms can play in facilitating data-sharing and confidence building. This could include establishing a joint technical working group of experts to develop better understanding of plastic debris disposal in the region and initiate joint plans such as public educational programmes.

The respective sessions during this meeting focused on country efforts on plastic pollution, monitoring and data collection best practices, existing commonalities in related policies, mapping future regional cooperation and coordination in managing marine plastic pollution, and developing standardised monitoring methods and protocols for analysis and interpretation. Also emphasised was the importance of developing a common understanding of the types of plastic most prevalent and damaging to the environment, economy, society, and human health.

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Small-group discussions on future areas for cooperation

Overall, the meeting covered common challenges faced in the region including best available practices for addressing them.  

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