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Tackling plastic pollution for communities and coral reefs in coastal Cambodia June 21,2019   |  Source: Fauna & Flora International

Take a moment to imagine yourself on a sun-kissed beach on Koh Rong, watching the sea foam onto the white sand and hearing the gentle rustle of tropical rainforest behind you. The stunning beaches and vibrant marine biodiversity of Koh Rong and Cambodia's other islands may be precious, but not all is idyllic. With each rising tide, waves of bottles, bags and other waste wash up on the shoreline, a symptom of the estimated eight million tons of plastic that seep into global oceans each year—the equivalent of over 26,000 Boeing 747 airplanes. This issue is affecting marine ecosystems from the Coral Triangle to the Arctic Circle, and Cambodia is by no means immune from this global scourge.

It is well known that marine plastic pollution harms ocean life, including many species found in Cambodian waters. Endangered sea turtles may mistakenly swallow plastics bags, which closely resemble their jellyfish prey, or find their nesting beaches covered in trash. Plastic bags and nets can smother or even kill corals—the cornerstones of marine ecosystems—with recent research also showing that exposure to plastic particles increases coral disease outbreaks. Tiny pieces of plastic are also swallowed by fish and other marine creatures, entering the food chain and even ending up in

 

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