Hong Kong has failed to halt the rising tide of trash dumped into the sea, with the amount collected nearly doubling in a decade, the Marine Department says. More than 12,900 tonnes of trash was cleared from waters around the city last year, a 5 per cent increase over 2007. This compares with 6,750 tonnes in 1998. Yet the latest figure does not include the 15,500 tonnes collected at beaches by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD). Lisa Christensen, director of Coastal Cleanup Challenge, an international event to promote ocean protection, said statistics from cleanup events showed that at least three-quarters of the floating trash was produced locally. 'The extensive data we collected over the years indicates Hong Kong, as a society, suffers from a 'pick up after me' syndrome,' she said. 'There is a lack of awareness and responsibility for the masses of waste we generate. 'There is also insufficient government support to the recycling industries, and subsequently we are finding enormous amounts of recyclable waste, especially plastics, along Hong Kong's beaches and in the water.' About a quarter of the trash collected last year, nearly 3,000 tonnes, was from Aberdeen and Tin Wan, where fishing vessels unload their catch on to a wholesale market. Off Central, where a major reclamation project is under way, the volume of trash removed topped 600 tonnes - a rise of 23 per cent on 2006. The fastest-growing areas for dumping trash are Chek Lap Kok, the airport island, and the Rambler Channel, near the Kwai Chung container port - with 26.4 and 65.5 tonnes last year, an increase of 7.6 and 2.3 times respectively over 2006. Clarus Chu Ping-shing, a senior marine conservation officer at WWF Hong Kong, said some trash might have been swept in across the border in bad weather. 'Whenever there are heavy downpours and the water current is right, [a massive amount of] rubbish will drift into the city. Much of it is foam, broken furniture, plastic bags and bottles with labels written in simplified Chinese characters,' he said. Mr Chu blamed the poor system of collecting trash on the mainland but said local fishermen and holidaymakers should be responsible for their waste and not throw things into the sea. He also pointed the finger at the Hong Kong government for adopting a fragmented approach to the problem, with responsibilities for gazetted beaches, non-gazetted beaches, harbour areas, ecologically sensitive areas and underseas assigned to different departments. The Marine Department is responsible for trash floating outside beaches, and relies on a contractor operating 70 vessels to collect and transport it. The department said it had implemented a series of measures, including publicity and education, to counter the problem. It is also offering free trash-collection services to vessels and harbour patrols to enforce the littering law. A spokesman said: 'The department will flexibly deploy resources to cope with expected and observed situations having regard to the prevailing weather conditions.' A spokesman for the FEHD said it regularly cleaned up beaches. 'The number of workers and the cleansing frequency vary, depending on the actual situation of the individual ungazetted beach and the amount of waste to be cleared. It could be as many as 40 workers and as frequently as twice a week.'