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Plastic pellet incident demonstrates government-community collaboration to protect environment (with photo)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, today (October 26) expressed the Government's appreciation to various community organisations and individuals for their assistance in providing reports and cleaning up the polypropylene plastic pellets deposited in the sea and on beaches following Typhoon Vicente in July. They noted that the incident was a good illustration of government-community collaboration.

     More than 20 organisations and volunteer groups attended the meeting with Mrs Lam and Mr Wong this afternoon. Apart from expressing appreciation for the prompt reaction by organisations and volunteer groups that helped the Government to organise timely follow-up work among departments, Mrs Lam and Mr Wong also discussed with them possible co-operation in environmental protection in the future.

     Mrs Lam said, "In the clean-up of the plastic pellets, community groups and individuals have demonstrated the vitality of civic society in Hong Kong, the power of strong organisation, the enormous synergy of government-community collaboration, as well as the public's awareness of and concern for nature and the environment. I express my sincere appreciation to them all."

     She attributed the smooth handling of the plastic pellet incident to the joint efforts of various government departments. Relevant departments, including the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the Marine Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), the Civil Aid Service, the Auxiliary Medical Service, the Marine Police and the Government Flying Service all participated in the clean-up. The departments deployed extra manpower and made concerted efforts to tackle the impact of the plastic pellet incident in various ways, including searching for the lost containers, clearing plastic pellets dispersed in the sea and on the shore, strengthening the monitoring of food safety, providing assistance to mariculturists, monitoring the impact of the incident on marine ecology, and disseminating information on the progress of the clean-up operation to the general public.

     Mrs Lam said, "The plastic pellet incident illustrates that co-ordination among government departments, community organisations and individuals is essential in achieving the best result."

     In order to keep abreast of the times and to successfully implement strategies for keeping the shorelines clean, the Government will set up an inter-departmental working group (the Group) to review and formulate measures aimed at improving the cleanliness of shorelines.

     "Through strengthening inter-departmental co-operation, the Group will identify the sources of marine refuse, review the existing measures and formulate strategic policies to prevent and reduce marine refuse. The Group will also identify the order of priority for shores that require cleaning and formulate other improvement measures. Moreover, the Group will organise public engagement sessions to promote public awareness of keeping our shorelines clean," said Mr Wong.

     The Group will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary for the Environment. Members will be representatives from eight government departments, namely the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Marine Department, FEHD, Drainage Services Department, LCSD, AFCD, Lands Department and Civil Engineering and Development Department.

     To co-ordinate with the Group, the EPD is preparing a study on the current sources of marine refuse. The Group will also work with local parties to organise activities to clean up and protect Hong Kong's shorelines.

     Mr Wong said the Government welcomes ideas and views on protecting the environment through public engagement. During the meeting, the WWF-Hong Kong introduced the "Adopt A Beach" programme. The programme, through a subsidy from the Environment and Conservation Fund, aims to mobilise community organisations to enhance public awareness of the need to protect Hong Kong's shorelines.

Ends/Friday, October 26, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:27


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