One of the Solomon Islands most popular provinces for dive and adventure tourism is enforcing a total ban on plastic bags.
The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation just reported that the Premier of Western Province Wayne Maepio has announced a province wide ban on plastic bags. Maepio made the announcement last week at a local meeting of stakeholders and ministers. In a statement, Maepio said that plastic bag pollution in Western Province had reached epidemic proportions, damaging both the marine environment and people's health. He added that a stakeholder committee had already been established to put together a realistic time frame for the ban as well as bringing on board partners, particularly from the tourism industry.
Western Province is among the Solomon Islands' most popular tourist destinations - a scattering of tropical islands and atolls with fringing reefs that offer some of the best diving and snorkelling in the country. But flimsy plastic bags have been more or less ubiquitous for many years and poor waste disposal infrastructure has meant that millions are entering the ocean, where they break down into microplastics. These are ingested by fish which are then of course consumed by humans. Plastic bags are made from petroleum and are signifcant conbributors of the green house gases that are causing global warming.
The next step for Maepio and his team is to establish how the ban will be enforced and to develop a socialisation program for local communities scattered throughout the islands so that the policy can be effectively rolled out. Tourism providers in the region should be key partners in promoting the programme, which will pay dividends since the stunning local environment is the key resource in their enterprises.
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