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Diving Deep: Cleaning Underwater Trash at Cu Lao Cham

Scuba Diving to Clean the Seabed of Cu Lao Cham (Quang Nam): A Story of Real Environmental Effort

The Cu Lao Cham community is known as an “ecological community,” dedicated to biodiversity conservation for many years. The underwater trash collection team, consisting of members from the Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area (MPA) Control Team, tourism businesses, and local fishermen, was formed. Except for the strictly protected areas, their mission is to clean trash from sea areas like Bai Bac, Bai Xep, Bai Tra, Hon Dai, focusing on tourist experience areas and coral reef restoration zones to maintain Cu Lao Cham’s reputation as a “legendary green island.”

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Cu Lao Cham residents participating in underwater trash collection

Collecting Trash for Our Common Home

In Cu Lao Cham, the sea is viewed as a home that must always be clean. Even during their three-layer net fishing, Pham Thi Lua (52 years old, Bai Ong hamlet resident) and her relatives habitually pick up any trash they encounter. “I always carry tools so that when I’m at sea, I can collect any trash and bring it to the island for disposal. A clean sea ensures a diverse ecosystem and abundant marine resources. It also allows coral reefs to thrive, preserving marine life and ecosystems,” Lua explained.

Born on the island and adept at swimming and diving, Tran Ngoc Vu (50 years old, Sao Viet Diving Company) is a leading and active member of the seabed cleanup team. He encourages his employees to participate in marine environmental activities. Utilizing his diving skills, he and his team often dive around 3 meters deep near the shore to collect trash.

Vu also incorporates trash collection into the tourist experience of coral viewing. He urges tourists visiting Cu Lao Cham not to bring plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws, or disposable plastic items to the island. “As islanders who rely on the sea, we love our island and are incredibly proud of Cu Lao Cham’s ecosystem and always emphasize the importance of environmental protection,” he shares.

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Seabed trash collected and transported ashore by the Cu Lao Cham MPA management team

Feeling Awkward Holding a Plastic Bag

Nguyen Thi Hong Thuy (29 years old), a member of the MPA Control Team, says that the seabed cleaning team is well-equipped with basket boats, trash pickers, starfish grabbers, life jackets, trash nets, and collection bags. They regularly dive in areas like Bai Bac, Bai Xep, Bai Nan, and Bai Tra. Thuy is also an active member of the cleaning team. “When catching crown-of-thorns starfish, we use specialized equipment and follow the correct procedures. If encountered, we push them away from coral reefs, collect them in baskets without piercing their bodies to avoid their secretion and proliferation. Then, we bury them and destroy them with acid and lime. We sort and dispose of trash like we do on land,” Thuy explains.

Thuy also notes that the team feels encouraged as the amount of trash collected gradually decreases with each dive, a result of the residents’ and tourists’ increased awareness. However, concerns remain, with most trash originating from maritime activities, fishing, or drifting ashore from the Thu Bon River.

Tran Hoan (70 years old, Bai Huong hamlet resident), a pioneer in marine conservation, takes pride in educating the community about marine environment preservation. “Nowadays, no islander casually carries coral branches around like in the past. Even holding a plastic bag on the streets makes them feel awkward. This level of consciousness is not easily found elsewhere,” Hoan proudly states.


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