The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.
As borders closed this past month in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry and the conservation projects that rely on its revenues have come to a sudden halt.
Effective January 1, Thailand’s plastic bag ban in major stores follows a yearlong campaign against single-use plastics after several incidents in which animals died from plastic blocking their digestive systems (Reuters
On June 21, Thailand's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Gen. Surasak Karnjanarat, announced that he will lead an effort to institute a total ban on the import of electronic waste. Electronic waste creates significant health concerns, as many components are laden with toxic materials like lead and mercury. Thai police began raiding factories last month that have been accused of illegally importing and processing electronic waste. So far, over 30 factories have been raided.
At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. It is estimated that 5-13 million tons of plastics flow into the world's oceans annually. The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany, estimated that 75% of land-borne marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers, predominantly in Asia.
According to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, the number of non-native great apes and gibbons residing in zoos and other wildlife attractions in Thailand is much higher than those recorded as legally imported. For the great apes, this discrepancy is in part due to the fact that international trade in apes is prohibited (due to listings on Appendix I of CITES), but only four of those apes—those native to Thailand—receive protection under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.
On August 3, seaweed farmers from Indonesia sued the Thailand company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) for more than $152 million. The lawsuit was launched in Sydney's Federal Court and would cover damages from the worst Australian oil spill, which occured in 2009 when an explosion at PTTEP's Montara drilling rig spilled approximately 30,000 barrels of oil into the Timor Sea over the course of 74 days. Lawyers arguing the case say that the spill reached as far as Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, a distance of 124 miles. The case is funded by the UK-based Harbour Litigation Funding.
An international law enforcement coalition has released the results of a massive investigation aimed at curbing illegal wildlife trafficking. Sixty-two countries as well as several international organizations conducted a series of operations during May that netted over 300 arrests and the seizure of more than 600 items of contraband from across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Officials claim the arrests included eight kingpins from three countries.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha announced the formation of a joint task force to crack down on illegal fishing operations in the wake of revelations concerning the use of slaves on Thai boats fishing in Indonesian waters. The announcement came two days after the European Union threatened an import ban if Thailand does not address the problem within six months. Representatives of the Thai fishing industry are skeptical about meeting that deadline, saying there are about 2,000 unlicensed fishing boats in Thailand.