JIS News

On Saturday, September 17, environmentalists and volunteers will converge on selected sites around the island to participate in activities to commemorate International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Cleanup activities are set to take place at beaches in twelve of the island’s fourteen parishes, and according to Executive Director of the National Environmental Societies Trust (NEST), Devon Blake, the day’s work will be marked primarily by the collection of debris and refuse along the beachfront.
Mr. Blake told JIS News that cleanups are to be held in St. Elizabeth at Treasure Beach in conjunction with the Malvern Science Resource Centre in the parish and in St. Catherine at Old Harbour and Hellshire beaches, with the Hellshire cleanup involving the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
Cleanup activities will also be carried out in Lucea, Hanover with the assistance of the Dolphin Head Trust as well as in St. Thomas through the Environmental Protection Association and Upliftment Jamaica.
Among the other scheduled cleanups, he said, are the Montego Bay Marine Park in St. James; in St. Mary, with the assistance of the International School of Jamaica; at Bluefields and Negril in Westmoreland; in St. Ann, through the efforts of Friends of the Sea, and in Kingston, with the Jamaica Environment Trust.
Mr. Blake explained that NEST is the national coordinator for the annual international cleanup exercise, which takes place in an estimated 90 countries. Locally, the cleanup has been actively celebrated since 1989, and he emphasised that “it is one of the important events to mark the environmental calendar.”
The annual occasion also signifies a key moment for NEST as it provides the Trust with the opportunity to record statistics of the collected garbage, which forms part of a national report, utilised in public education campaigning, and also to influence policy towards marine debris activities.
The report is forwarded to Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) as well as agencies of government, with the expressed hope that they examine the findings in terms of the formulation of environmental policy.
Referring to the garbage collected last year, Mr. Blake said, “Our top 10 items were beverage bottles, which was over 28 per cent.plastic bags accounted for 14 per cent while cups, plates, knives, forks, and spoons were over 10 per cent.”
He said a large portion of the debris found was from crowds associated with entertainment-type activities held on the beaches.
In the meantime, the Jamaica 4 H Clubs will be lending support to this Saturday’s various cleanup activities by calling on the involvement of its clubbites.
Public Relations Officer of the Club, Karelle McCormack informed JIS News that NEST had invited the 4 H Clubs to not only be a part of International Coastal Cleanup Day, but to also become directly affiliated with the Trust as well.
She revealed that in recent years, the 4 H Clubs had renewed its thrust towards one of the Clubs’ tenets, that of environmental education. This education includes a programme known as Environmental Challenge, which is currently in its third year.
Persons interested in volunteering for the cleanups are welcome to do so, Mr. Blake said. To register, they can either telephone NEST at 969-6502 or visit the website at www.coastalcleanup.org

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