Russian swimmer collects trash on Phu Quoc

By Trung Nghia   March 24, 2021 | 11:00 pm PT
Russian swimmer collects trash on Phu Quoc
Sonya Firsova picks up trash on Ong Lang beach in Phu Quoc Island, southern Vietnam, March 21, 2021. Photo courtesy of Firsova.
A video depicting a Russian woman cleaning up a beach on Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island, has generated over 2.4 million views.

During her trip to Phu Quoc off the southern coast last week, Sonya Firsova, 27, visited Ong Lang Beach and found a large amount of trash strewn about.

Taking matters into her own hands, Firsova decided to collect the garbage. When she started collecting trash, some locals also joined in, she recalled.

"I couldn't remain indifferent since I really care about nature and the environment. I always pick up trash when visiting beaches."

Firsova said she hopes authorities would impose better regulations on plastic recycling since plastic is non-biodegradable and kills off wildlife.

"If it's only me picking up trash, plastic pollution would not be reduced. Authorities should employ appropriate measures to dispose of garbage."

Firsova later posted the video on social media and attracted wide-spread attention from Vietnamese netizens, who praised her actions.

On Tuesday, she received a call from Pham Van Son, general secretary of the Vietnam Association for the Protection of Nature and Environment, who lauded her "encouraging" act in raising public awareness on environmental protection.

[Ong Lang Beach is seen from above. Photo by Shutterstock/Dany Tran.

An aerial view of Ong Lang Beach. Photo by Shutterstock/Dany Tran.

Quang Trong Thao, deputy director of Kien Giang’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the amount of plastic waste in Vietnam in general, and Phu Quoc in particular, has reached alarming levels.

Phu Quoc in Kien Giang gained worldwide popularity after opening an international airport in 2012 and has been implementing a 30-day visa-free policy for foreigners since 2014.

Once an island district, Phu Quoc is now Vietnam's first island city with a population of nearly 180,000 people following National Assembly Standing Committee approval last December.

However, the island city’s natural beauty has been compromised by a tourism boom and tourism real estates springing up, a development not likely to slow down given the demand.

Vietnam discharges around 18,000 tons of plastic waste a day, according to official data. Experts have expressed concern over how beaches in Vietnam are being trashed at an alarming rate. The country was the fourth largest sea polluter in the world, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in 2019 issued a national action plan on the management of plastic waste in the ocean until 2030, aiming to fulfill Vietnam's international commitment to resolve the issue of marine plastic contamination.

The country aims to cut down 75 percent of its marine plastics and stop generating plastic waste in coastal tourist areas by 2030, the PM stated.

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