3 weeks ago
The past year saw several upsetting events related to marine pollution in Southeast Asia’s waters. First, in June 2018, a pilot whale died in Thailand and some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing 8 kilograms were found in its stomach. Then in November, a dead sperm whale found in the waters around Wakatobi, Indonesia was reported to have ingested almost 6 kg of plastic waste. Unfortunately, the sad trend did not stop there. This March, a dead whale was found in the Philippine waters with the same condition. Those are only some of the devastating examples of the effect of marine litter.
ASEAN has been under fire for marine pollution. Four of its member states are among the biggest polluters of the oceans: Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. But ASEAN has been working to solve the issue. The recent 34th ASEAN Summit, held in Thailand in June, issued two important documents related to protection of the marine environment. The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris (Framework of Action) are two cornerstone documents in combating marine debris in Southeast Asia. Together, they are the answer to various criticisms of ASEAN’s effort to combat marine pollution. This is also an important moment for the region as a whole to contribute to combating marine pollution.
The big question, however, is whether the Framework of Action can be put into action through a binding legal instrument or whether it will only end up as a “framework” without any binding power over the ASEAN member states.