He Li at the Norway-China Business Summit on Oct 18 in Shanghai [Photo/WeChat account of Qiandao Haiyang]
From collecting trash on the beach alone to initiating a public organization for coastal cleanup, a Zhoushan marine-protection activist has devoted himself to the protection of East China Sea over the past three decades.
"We want to safeguard China's coastline, and make coastal cleanup a habit for people, as coastal cleanup is not merely about trash collecting, but about marine protection," said He Li in an interview with China Daily.
A native of Zhoushan, He was quite dejected when returning to his hometown in 2016 and seeing lots of trash scattered everywhere on the beaches.
Determined to restore the once-clean beaches, he started coastal cleanup himself and initiated a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 2017 dedicated to marine litter treatment on the islands of Zhoushan.
The organization, Qiandao Haiyang Marine Protection Group, works mainly on coordinating people from multiple islands of the city to clean the beaches, collecting data of marine litter along the coastline, analyzing the marine conditions, and conducting public education on marine protection.
"We are trying to develop into a hub network that connects all the islands of the East China Sea and inspires joint efforts in marine protection, while we provide the necessary data, training and publicity," said He.
In developing the hub, He noted the important role of internet and big data, adding that they had established an online platform on WeChat, the Chinese social media app, to encourage public involvement, and applied drones and real-time monitoring platforms to collect and analyze data, so to be able to comprehensively conclude the root of marine litter.
The organization has so far mobilized over 4,800 volunteers and cleaned up 34 beaches on ten islands, removing over 30 metric tons of trash. It has also set up four marine litter monitoring stations in Zhoushan.
As part of the efforts, He and his team conducted a joint survey of marine litter with the Zhoushan Maritime Safety Administration on Oct 20 to record the local foreign trash (the solid waste from other countries that had flowed into the waters of Zhoushan, such as waste bottles), which was the first of its kind in the East China Sea initiated by an NGO.