Beach Clean-Up Day to Highlight Issue of Improper Garbage Disposal

Photo: JIS Photographer Environmental Officer at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Monique Curtis (left), discusses the activities for International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD) 2013, at a Think Tank held on September 17 at the Half-Way-Tree Road head offices of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Listening keenly is Environmental Coordinator at the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Danae Vaccianna (right). ICCD will be observed on Saturday (September 21), under the theme: ‘Trash Free Seas’.

Story Highlights

  • International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICCD) is being observed under the theme: ‘Trash Free Seas’.
  • The agency will collect relevant data on the types of debris found on the beaches
  • Marine litter is an ongoing issue in Jamaica

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will turn the spotlight on the improper disposal of solid waste along Jamaica’s coastline, on International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICCD) on Saturday, September 21. The day is being observed under the theme: ‘Trash Free Seas’.

Environmental Officer at NEPA, Monique Curtis, informed that in addition to cleaning beaches across the island, the agency will collect relevant data “on the types of debris we are finding on our beaches, and what initiatives we will have to be put in place to tackle these problems.”

“We will be asking volunteers to fill out data cards that will result in the tabulation of statistics,” she said at a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday, September 17.

According to Miss Curtis, marine litter is an ongoing issue in Jamaica, which the relevant environmental bodies are trying to address through ICCD, among other strategies.

“Marine debris can result in habitat destruction by affecting water quality, and causing physical damage to sensitive eco-systems. It can threaten our wild life, which includes ingestion by birds and entanglements in debris by seabirds and marine turtles that can result in the death of these animals,” she pointed out.

She cited data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which revealed that 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, which to a large extent impacts marine life.

Statistics from research conducted in 2012, indicate that 92.7 per cent of the debris recorded along the nation’s shorelines, were as a result of indiscriminate activities.

“What we are really looking at is the impact that marine debris will have on our environment, and how long all of these (plastic) bags will actually take to breakdown before they cause serious damage. On average, plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to breakdown when discarded improperly in our environment. Disposable diapers and plastic bottles take 450 years to break down, hence the need for proper disposal of such waste,” Miss Morris stated.

Spearheaded by the Oceans Conservancy, ICCD purports to be the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health, and is traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday in September of each year.

“Volunteers, on this day, are given an opportunity to make a difference as they flock beaches in their communities to remove marine debris,” the NEPA Environmental Officer said.

Miss Curtis informed that, so far, 91 sites have been registered for ICCD, which represents an increase in comparison to the 77 sites that were hosted in 2012.

She said registration of cleanup sites can be coordinated through the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), the national coordinators for ICCD, through their website, www.jamentrust.org, or telephone numbers 960-3693/9783.

NEPA will be partnering with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to clean the Half Moon Bay in Hellshire, St. Catherine, and the Port Royal Protected Area.

Environmental Coordinator at the UDC, Danae Vaccianna, who also addressed the Think Tank, said the agency plays an integral role in protecting Jamaica’s coastal environment.

“We encourage persons to actually do regular beach clean-ups. We also conduct beach clean-ups between Fort Clarence and the Hellshire round-a-about. As part of the public education component, we also try to go out into schools, and communities, and encourage solid waste management,” she told JIS News.

Miss Vaccianna said the UDC continuously promotes the concept of reduce, reuse, and recycle, as a means of managing solid waste.

“We try to work with agencies responsible for solid waste, such as National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), to implement initiatives to control garbage disposal,” she stated.

Persons, who volunteer on ICCD, are being advised to take along the following: long pants,sturdy shoes, work gloves, cap/hat, sunscreen lotion, reusable water bottles, and insect repellent.

For more information, persons can contact NEPA at 876-754-7540 or toll free 1-888-991-5005.

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