In May 2022 we established the first Moken owned community Enterprise: Moken Ocean Guardians. The aim of the enterprise is to reduce ocean bound plastics and provide much needed cultural and economic support for the Moken people of southern Thailand.
The Moken have always lived from the bounty of the sea but modern pollution and overfishing are causing declining fish stocks and increasing plastic waste. Observing the state of their beloved sea, the Moken started their Surin-Plastic-Free-Bays initiative in 2020, to collect ocean plastics at the remote bays. Hook and Lena have taken on the role as Moken Ambassadors (see Houseboat Revival) and connected this initiative to Ranong Recycle for Environment Social Enterprise (RRE) and #tide ocean material.
Over 10 tons of plastics have since been removed from the Surin islands. For proper recycling, the island plastics travel 5 hours by longtail boat to the Kuraburi harbor. A truck awaits the load for further transfer to RRE. There, bales are created that are sent to #tide in Bangkok for recycling. Due to the difficulty in logistics to schedule the boats with a truck, it became clear that a storage was needed closer to the mainland.
Along the coast there is a lack of infrastructure for waste management and all waste transportation to the mainland are covered privately. Some collectors tried to buy from islanders, but the price was hence as low as 1-2THB per kilo (0,02-0,05€) and did not stimulate the islanders to collect. The further the islands the more plastics at the beaches, because it simply doesn’t pay off.
In the beginning of 2022, a warehouse was built on the island of Koh Ra. The aim was to give the Surin transfer boats a landing point and also to multiply efforts around the Kuraburi coast and its nearby islands. With transportation- and logistics support from #tide and other private sponsors we will offer the same value as on the mainland. The prices per kilo range from 5 to 11 THB (0,13-0,30€) depending on the plastic type and shall give enough motivation for the islanders to collect and sell plastics.
With the registration of Moken Ocean Guardians as a community enterprise we are ready to continue our work on Koh Surin, expand our activities on Koh Ra, and develop a collection center on the mainland to properly bale our plastic and transfer it to Bangkok independently.
Our vision is to empower the Moken, to work autonomously in order to maintain the precious aspects of their culture that allowed the Moken to exist in harmony with their natural environment. 90% of all island activities are carried out by the Moken, including: plastic collection, sorting, processing; all boat transportation and educational workshops about recycling and conservation.
You are welcome to support our cause with a donation.