Trash — most of it from China — that has washed up in the South Penghu Marine National Park might have to remain where it is during the northeast monsoon season, as it has accumulated faster than volunteers can remove it, officials said on Monday.
The park consists of four main islets and their surrounding waters in the south of Penghu County: Dongji (東吉), Siji (西吉), Dongyuping (東嶼坪) and Siyuping (西嶼坪).
Their steep topography paired with seasonal winds and waves make it difficult to remove marine waste, so the Marine National Park Headquarters, which manages the park, sets aside funds every year to facilitate cleanup.
Photo: Liu Yu-ching, Taipei Times
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the headquarters this year sought help from Penghu residents, offering NT$1,500 a day plus accommodation.
There was an enthusiastic response from people looking to escape a level 3 COVID-19 alert, it said, adding that they collected trash in excess of expectations, removing more than 100 tonnes.
For Dongyuping and Siyuping, the headquarters set aside NT$3 million (US$106,564), with 40 tonnes of trash removed, while NT$7 million was set aside for Dongji and Siji.
Cleanup of Dongji and Siji was to be completed by the beginning of this month, but the headquarters said that the job is still only about halfway done.
It attributed the delay to pandemic restrictions, as Dongji closed entry to the islet until July 13, pushing back the start of work by two weeks.
There are about a dozen people on Dongji collecting refuse in bags, consolidating them and sending them on boats to Kaohsiung to be incinerated, contractors said.
They have already cleared about 50 tonnes and plan to clear the remaining 50 tonnes by the end of the month, they said.
However, with the resurgence of the northeast monsoon, even more trash — more than 70 percent of which originates from China — is to float in by next year, restarting the entire process, contractors said.
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