For decades tourists have flocked to the Indonesian island of Bali to surf, snorkel and sunbathe on its perfect beaches.
But now the island has declared a "garbage emergency" after the country’s most popular tourist beaches were inundated with a rising tide of plastic waste.
A 3.6-mile stretch of beach on the island’s western coast was declared an emergency zone after authorities realised that the volume of plastic being washed up was endangering the tourist trade.
Workers sent in to Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak beaches, among the island’s busiest, were carting off up to 100 tons of junk each day at the peak of the cleanup, AFP news agency reported.
Plastic pollution on Bali has soared in recent years and has become a major concern for visitors and residents.
"It is awful. People just don’t care, it’s everywhere, it’s everywhere," said Gulang, a hotel worker who declined to give his second name.
"The government does something but it is really just a token thing," he said.
He said much of the pollution on Bali is down to habitual fly tipping that sees rubbish carried out to sea during the rainy season and blamed much of the problem on the indifference of many islanders to the issue.
But he added that municipal refuse management is inadequate. He often resorts to using waste disposal facilities at the hotels where he works for domestic rubbish.
Kelly Slater, the US world surfing champion, warned after a visit in 2012 that pollution on the island was getting so bad it could soon make surfing there "impossible."
The island’s government has made some moves to tackle the issue.
Last year authorities said they would aim to ban polythene bags by 2018, following a campaign launched by two school girls and endorsed by celebrities including Australian surfing champion Mick Fanning.
But much of what arrives on its beaches comes from other parts of the heavily polluted Java Sea.
Indonesia is the second biggest maritime plastic polluter in the world after China. The river of Citarum in West Java has been described as the most polluted river in the world with detritus dumped in it by nearby factories.
An estimated eight million metric tons of plastic were released into the world’s oceans in 2010, according to a University of Georgia study.
Indonesia accounted for up to 1.29 million tons, or more than 10 per cent of the total.
In March this year the Indonesian government pledged to spend up to $1 billion a year to clean up its seas.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs said at a World Oceans Summit – held, appropriately enough, on Bali – that the country would seek to reduce plastic pollution by 75 per cent by 2025.
The Bali clean up comes after David Attenborough’s Blue Planet sparked a debate in Britain on the damage done to the environment by plastic.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has said he was left "haunted" by scenes in the series that showed sea life struggling to survive in polluted seas and is understood to be developing plans to crackdown on use of single use plastics.
The Department for International Development is considering proposals to direct aid to help clean up particularly polluted rivers in Africa and Asia that are believed to contribute disproportionately to plastics in the oceans.
Additional reporting by Ruth Christie in Bali
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