On June 23, 2021 Hiroshima’s Governor Yuzaki signed the Shining Green Sea Setouchi Declaration to curb plastic pollution from the source to zero by 2050.
This is an important step in the right direction to slow down with aim to eliminate plastics as it is adding to the already overwhelming Marine plastic pollution problem in the Seto Inland Sea.
The declaration states that Hiroshima policymakers will take the lead to collaborate with other prefectures and destinations around the Setouchi area.
I’ve talked many times about the need for stricter policy of the oyster and fishing industry in Hiroshima from our volunteer cleanup activities and this is addressed in the news.
Hiroshima BeachClean Volunteer Activist couple, Takao Fujiwara and his wife talked about this new June 24th 2021 Green Sea declaration. Takao and the many neighborhood Litter Picking volunteers who work hard 2~3 times each week at this same location, display the piles of plastic ocean waste piled high on the side of the path. They show that what they pick up is almost entirely from the Oyster Floating Farms.
Listen to our talk below and hear Takao-san’s frustration that the biggest polluters, the Oyster industry, are left out of this declaration targets to reduce plastics they put into the sea by the tens of thousands each day.
Floating Oyster Bed Pollution Takao-san Finds:
- Styrofoam/Polystyrene often in small pieces that he is worried about volunteers and beachgoers, especially children, breathing in and becoming sick.
- Plastic tubes/pipes long and short, as well as plastic discs which are used to space out the oysters on a strand hanging down from a floating oyster farm.
Politics of Plastic Pollution
Takao-san also explained that at the Moto-Ujina location there are 3 different authorities for waste management. The national government controls the forests as it is a designated national park, the city oversees the sidewalk, and the beach and waterways are overseen by the prefecture. So it’s easier to claim it’s another department’s responsibility depending on where the trash is found.
This is another frustration since the declation has been created by the prefectural government that has authority over the oyster farms and its pollution, but chooses to focus on plastic packaging and pollution from the cities supermarkets, shops and households instead of the biggest polluter.
The overwhelming plastic pollution problem in the oceans around Hiroshima is the reason for our 3rd Sunday monthly cleanup volunteering as well as the special 6-week focus on cleanups and interviews this year from June 6th to July 22nd, 2021.
We are finding out so much about litter and plastic marine pollution around the world via interviews and volunteer activities. Raising awareness is vital to fixing this problem.
I’m glad to see the government addressing and targeting the problem. I know the Hiroshima oyster industry is resistant to change as I have heard from their staff directly and from others who know the industry. But to reach zero, this industry must change. It is vague but it sounds like they will be included in reduction targets to zero after 2030. The focus will start on reducing packaging and other single-use plastics including shopping bags, PET bottle beverage containers.
According to their statistics, the oyster industry plastic tubes in both short and long sizes (pipes), plastic discs, and styrofoam used to keep the floating oyster farms afloat account for 80%* of total marine pollution (Asahi news 2019 article). Household waste from product packaging, food and beverage containers is estimated to account for 20%. *Takao-san would argue it is even higher than 80%.
Focusing on changing the status quo at supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and other retailers is a good first step in the right direction. But we need to address the bulk of the problem as soon as possible- the oyster industry.
When I visited a floating farm, they said they used to use rope, bamboo, wood and other non-plastic materials. So, we need to push for a shift back to these more sustainable methods and start decreasing the flow of new plastics into the Setouchi seas each day ASAP.
It is wonderful to see Hiroshima taking the lead here and taking steps forward to reduce the flow of plastic pollution in this area. This will be a boost for tourism, community and the overall brand of not only Hiroshima and the Setouchi area, but Japan’s overall brand as well. Meeting SDG14 targets for healthier life under water is a very important goal!