Hundreds of tons of plastic trash in sea off Thailand

Latest News

A trail of trash in a Thailand waterway is causing a big stink. Environmentalists say it’s highlighting one of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans: plastic waste. Millions-of-tons of plastic ends up in the sea each year, killing marine life and polluting the environment.

CGTN’s Martin Lowe reports.

Hundreds of tons of plastic trash in sea off Thailand

Hundreds of tons of plastic trash in sea off Thailand

A trail of trash in a Thailand waterway is causing a big stink. Environmentalists say it’s highlighting one of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans: plastic waste. Millions-of-tons of plastic ends up in the sea each year, killing marine life and polluting the environment. CGTN’s Martin Lowe reports.
Download Video

It’s being called ‘an island’ of trash – a 10-kilometer long stream of garbage and debris brought together by wind and tide to form a continuous floating mass.

Hundreds of tons of rubbish, cans, drink bottles and non-degradable plastic, all drifting just a few kilometers off Thailand’s holiday beaches and dive sites.

It was discovered by Nopphadon Thinthalaep, a fisherman in Chumphon province, who raised the alarm by posting on the internet pictures he’d taken with his mobile phone.

Despite 17 years at sea, he says he’s never seen anything like it before.

“It looked about seven to 10 kilometers long and one to two kilometers wide. You could see it from a long way off. At first I thought maybe a boat had sunk so I headed straight into it. When I saw it was all trash I took pictures,” Thinthalaep said.

Environmental group Ocean Conservancy says Thailand is one of five Asian nations together responsible for 60 percent of plastic waste in the world’s seas.

It says Asian countries often have inadequate waste disposal facilities.

Authorities think Thailand’s trash island was caused by garbage being washed into the sea during recent floods.

“Before we found some small trash islands but we never found anything like 10 kilometers before. It’s huge, so now it’s a shock to all Thai people and the government is asking why are there so many plastic bags in the sea, it’s a good time to do something,” said doctor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a local marine biologist.

The floating garbage is being pinpointed by aircraft from the Thai navy, and satellites from the country’s space agency.

Ocean Conservancy says millions of tons of plastic waste is ending up in the sea each year, either through accident or uncontrolled dumping.

It believes in the world’s oceans, for every three tons of fish, there’ll soon be one ton of trash.

Environmentalists say there are more trash islands – like the one at Thailand – in oceans across the globe.

Many claim this is literally just the tip of the iceberg,with floating trash accounting for only five percent of plastic in the sea, the remaining 95 percent sinking to strangle underwater creatures and wreak havoc with the world’s aquatic eco-system.