Thu | Aug 6, 2020

Trash washing ashore in Ja from as far as Mexico

Published:Saturday | September 21, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has revealed that occasionally, debris from other countries washes ashore in Jamaica after being swept here by ocean currents.

In recent months, Jamaicans have been capturing images of debris, including plastic bottles, that is not of local origin, floating along the coastline

The Gleaner contacted JET, an environment lobby, after seeing images of bottles from foreign lands believed to have been washed ashore in the Corporate Area.

Programme Director Tamoy Singh Clarke said that the phenomenon is not new.

“It happens occasionally,” she said, adding that she has seen debris wash ashore from “as far as Mexico”.

She added: “We had products from Haiti as well.”

Singh Clarke said that the entity handles such waste as it does with local garbage, which ends up in the sea.

“We treat it like regular garbage,” she said, although she said that there was a much smaller volume of foreign waste in local waters.

“It’s not on a level as the local brands,” said Singh Clarke.

Meteorological Service head Evan Thompson explained that waters from the Atlantic Ocean flow into the Caribbean Sea because of the direction in which the currents move.

He said that the plastic bottles, as in this case, would be carried by the water, and until they reach a shoreline, the debris would keep moving.

“Most of the seas that affect Jamaica are mostly from the east. You have different flow patterns, but most of what comes inshore is coming from the waters in the east, for example, Haiti [and] Mexico, through the Gulf into the Atlantic high-pressure systems, and end up on our shores. It really depends on what current is in operation and what wind blows,” Thompson said.


More than 3,000 volunteers are gearing up to participate in garbage-collection activities today as the island joins the world in celebrating International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day.

JET is the national coordinator of ICC in Jamaica, which it has been delivering in partnership with the Tourism Enhancement Fund since 2008.

Clean-ups will take place at the Palisadoes Go-Kart Track and at 188 other sites across the island today.

Questions sent to the National Environment and Planning Agency on the matter of foreign waste washing ashore in Jamaica were not answered up to press time.

Plastics and polystyrene make up seven of the top-10 garbage items collected from the country’s coastlines and make up more than 50 per cent of the total garbage weight collected.