It’s a beautiful morning in Maputo National Park with not a soul in sight and the only company to be found are the seagulls flying low above the ocean. This alluring, long stretch of what seems to be unspoilt coastline, makes for a perfect morning walk after the team’s late arrival in the park. Yet, Lilian Spijkerman, Peace Parks Foundation Chief Development Officer gets a little more than she bargained for.

After a brisk walk along the beach, Lilian returns to the idyllic Anvil Bay, but surprisingly, she is not empty-handed. She tips out a bag full of plastic pollution which had been collected on her morning walk, consisting of toothbrushes, degraded bottle-tops, lids and some rope which had all been washed up on the beach from the ocean currents. Despite constant beach clean-up efforts by the Maputo National Park team, plastic pollution is an ongoing problem that plagues our oceans and the marine life within them.

Maputo National Park is one of the first marine transfrontier conservation areas in Africa, which Peace Parks Foundation helped to establish in 2008. The park and its coastline protect a host of endangered marine species such as dugongs, leatherback turtles, dolphins and whales to name a few. All these species are dependent on the rich food sources which occur in the protected offshore waters, as well as the vibrant coral reefs which are vital to the overall functioning of our underwater ecosystems.

Although the task of reducing plastic pollution in the oceans might seem like an uphill battle, there are still many ways that you can help keep our beaches clean and oceans healthy. One of which is to shop locally to reduce the amount of imported plastic, purchase reusable items such as bags and straws and swop out plastic for glass. Another important contribution could be to recycle, as an estimated 100 000 marine animals are killed annually by plastic bags alone!