The Solomon Islands Western Province, where much of the island nation’s best diving is to be found, has announced a total ban on plastic bags. The first Solomon Islands plastic bag ban.
The Premier of Western Province Wayne Maepio made the announcement last week at a local meeting of stakeholders and ministers. In a statement, the mayor highlighted the fact that plastic bag pollution in the Province had reached epidemic proportions, damaging both the marine environment and people’s health.
A stakeholder committee has been established to put together a realistic time frame for the ban and Maepio will also bring on board partners from the tourism industry.
The Solomons Western Province is among the islands’ most popular tourist destinations – especially for diving, with its mix of pristine coral reefs and WWII wrecks. Locations including Munda, Gizo and Uepi offer some of the best diving and snorkelling in the country.
Plastic pollution is an ongoing problem in the Solomon Islands, and it’s most noticeable in the islands’ gateway of Honiara. Poor waste disposal infrastructure means that millions of plastic bags and bottles enter the ocean, where they break down into microplastics which, of course, enter the food chain.
The next step for the Western Province mayor is to establish how the ban will be enforced and to educate the local communities scattered throughout the islands so that the policy can be effectively rolled out.
It is expected that tourism providers in the region will be key to the program’s success and will help to promote it. After all, it is within their interests to promote a policy that protects the environment they are promoting to a growing tourism industry.