Styrofoam buoys plague Vietnam tourist island


The Styrofoam Menace in Vietnam’s Co To Island

Tourist destinations are meant to be sanctuaries of beauty, tranquility, and relaxation. But what happens when these havens are threatened by pollution? This is the sad reality currently facing Vietnam’s Co To Island, which has seen a surge of Styrofoam waste endangering its shores and marine life.

Quang Ninh’s Response to Pollution

When a problem is recognized, action is vital. The authorities in the northern province of Quang Ninh acknowledged this fact. Upon realizing that a 7-km stretch of Co To’s beach was riddled with Styrofoam debris, the Co To District People’s Committee was quick to act. They dispatched hundreds of individuals to tackle this challenge, laboriously collecting trash for days on end. But where is all this waste coming from?

The Unseen Culprits: Seafood Farming Households

It’s easy to point fingers at industries, but sometimes the culprits are closer to home. The main sources of the Styrofoam menace are seafood farming households from mainland districts. These households, often unknowingly, dump their waste, primarily Styrofoam buoys, into the water after changing or shifting their fish cages.

Tracing the Styrofoam Journey: From Cages to Coasts

You ever wonder how a small action can have far-reaching consequences? The journey of the Styrofoam is a testament to this. After being discarded, these buoyant pollutants are taken by the tides, drifting until they finally wash up on the shores of Co To.

The Ha Long Bay Predicament

Sadly, Co To isn’t the only victim. In April and May, the waters of the UNESCO heritage site, Ha Long Bay, were inundated with trash and Styrofoam buoys. Recognizing the threat to this global landmark, Ha Long authorities waged a rigorous campaign, spanning several months, to rid the bay of this pollutant.

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Co To Island: A Growing Tourist Destination

Amidst these environmental challenges, Co To Island has seen an influx of tourists, eager to witness its natural wonders.

The Untouched Beauty of Co To

Around 80 kilometers from the mainland, Co To boasts pristine islets and untouched forests. Its location near the Chinese border meant restricted access in the past, preserving its beauty.

The Island’s Booming Tourism

Despite the challenges, or perhaps because of the rallying efforts to protect it, Co To’s tourism has thrived. In the first seven months of 2023 alone, the island greeted 230,000 visitors. This is a whopping 1.6 times more than 2022!

The Broader Impact of Styrofoam on Marine Environments

While the situation in Co To is alarming, it’s a mere microcosm of a global problem. Styrofoam, due to its non-biodegradable nature, poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems worldwide. From endangering marine life to impacting human health, the ripple effects are undeniable.

Proactive Measures and Solutions for Styrofoam Pollution

It’s not all doom and gloom. With collective effort, we can mitigate, and eventually eradicate, the Styrofoam menace. Proper disposal, recycling, and awareness campaigns are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential solutions. Isn’t it time we all played our part?


Vietnam’s Co To Island serves as a stark reminder of the challenges many tourist destinations face. While efforts are being made to combat the Styrofoam issue, it’s clear that global cooperation and local accountability are essential. After all, aren’t the serene beaches and vibrant marine life worth protecting?

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  1. Where is Co To Island located?
    • Co To Island is situated in the northern province of Quang Ninh, Vietnam.
  2. What’s the primary source of Styrofoam pollution on Co To’s shores?
    • The primary contributors are seafood farming households who discard Styrofoam buoys after using them.
  3. How are authorities handling the Styrofoam pollution in Ha Long Bay?
    • Ha Long authorities have initiated a months-long campaign to clean up the trash and Styrofoam buoys.
  4. Why is Co To Island’s tourism booming despite the pollution challenges?
    • The island’s natural beauty, pristine islets, and efforts to combat pollution have contributed to its growing appeal.
  5. What are the potential solutions to tackle Styrofoam pollution?
    • Solutions include proper waste disposal, recycling, and public awareness campaigns.