Nguyen Viet Hung, an ambassador of the ocean

Nguyen Viet Hung or Lekima Hung has travelled 7,000km of coastline in 28 provinces across Vietnam to capture ocean plastic waste. His 3,000 photos convey a single message of saving the sea from plastic litter, which is now the world’s second biggest environmental challenge after climate change.

Nguyen Viet Hung held a photo exhibition themed “Save our seas” in Hanoi in June in response to World Environment Day (June 5) and World Oceans Day (June 8).

The five-day exhibition featured more than 100 photos selected from over 3,000 photos and videos Hung took along the coastline across the country, which show the adverse impact of plastic litter on the sea.

The idea to show the danger of plastic waste came after Hung experienced his mother suffering from cancer – a disease whose cause is related to disposable plastic.

Photographer Nguyen Viet Hung. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Selecting photos for his exhibition “Save our seas” in Hanoi. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Country Director in Vietnam (left), Nguyen Viet Hung and
Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam Elsbeth Akkerman (right)pose for a photo with the message “Save our seas”. Photo: Files

Visitors’ impressions of the exhibition written on paper fish. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Hung, who has been working in photography for more than 20 years, chose to use photos as a means to raise public awareness about the threat of plastic waste to the environment. After one year of preparation, Hung started his journey in 2018, travelling to 28 provinces and taking 3,000 photos along 7,000 km of coastline and 100 estuaries.

Carrying the message of “only actions can bring about changes”, Hung’s photos deeply impressed viewers and spread a call for action to tackle plastic waste – a growing environmental disaster.

The photos, arranged according to topics, places, and times, gave an overall picture of plastic litter in the ocean in Vietnam.

Hung at a garbage dump during his trip. Photo: Files

A landfill by the roadside on Phu Quoc island in 2017. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

A signboard prohibiting garbage dumping in Nam Dinh province. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

A trash-filled lagoon in Sa Huynh, Quang Ngai province. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

Dumping waste into the sea in Quang Ngai. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

Drying fish in Can Gio. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

A dead mangrove forest in Nam Dinh. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

Vinh Luong beach in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa province. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

Making a living using garbage in Binh Thuan province. Photo: Nguyen Viet Hung

Addressing the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Country Director in Vietnam, called for practical activities to create a greener and cleaner Vietnam.

She said that the photo talks of Nguyen Viet Hung about plastic garbage inspired the community to reduce the amount of plastic waste and to help protect the environment.

Hung hoped the exhibition would help raise public awareness about plastic waste and prompt the authorities to issue policies to fight plastic waste.

Hung, who was awarded the title of Ambassador of the Ocean by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, expects to have other photo exhibitions to raise public awareness about this global issue.

Story: Bich Van – Photos: Thanh Giang & Files