Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Earth Today | Jamaicans urged to get behind International Coastal Clean-up 2017

Published:Wednesday | August 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
A group of men put some muscle behind getting this large piece of plastic from the Palisadoes during International Coastal Clean-up last year.
Female volunteers are hard at work in Montego Bay, during ICC 2016.

Jamaica's celebration of International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day next month could help advance the call to action that emerged from the United Nations Ocean Conference, held in New York in June.

If nothing else, the September 16 event should help to raise awareness about the benefits of achieving and then maintaining a healthy ocean the economic value of which has been put at US$21 trillion globally.

"International Coastal Clean-up Day is an important environmental education activity on the Jamaican/Jamaica Environment Trust (JET)/global calendar. It helps us to raise awareness about garbage in our oceans, where it comes from, where it goes, the problems it causes and what we can do to take action," noted Suzanne Stanley, deputy chief executive officer for JET.

"Marine pollution was highlighted as one of the biggest threats to our oceans at the UN Ocean Conference earlier this year. ICC not only raises awareness of this issue, it also allows ordinary citizens to get involved in a practical way in tackling the problem," she added.

The call to action includes an appeal to "accelerate actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, particularly from land-based activities, including marine debris, plastics and microplastics, nutrient pollution, untreated wastewater, solid waste discharges, hazardous substances, pollution from ships, and abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear".

It also calls "to address, as appropriate, the adverse impacts of other human-related activities on the ocean and on marine life, such as ship strikes, underwater noise and invasive alien species".


'Reduce, reuse and recycle'


It further urges the promotion of waste prevention and minimisation, the development of sustainable consumption and production patterns, and the adoption of the 3Rs "reduce, reuse and recycle, including through incentivising market-based solutions to reduce waste and its generation, improving mechanisms for environmentally sound waste management, disposal and recycling, and developing alternatives such as reusable or recyclable products, or products biodegradable under natural conditions".

According to Stanley, Jamaicans should get behind this year's ICC, for which JET is serving as national coordinator for the 10th year.

"At ICC clean-ups, volunteers are not only responsible for picking up trash, but also collecting data on the type of garbage they collect. The data is compiled and sent by JET to the Ocean Conservancy, who coordinates the event globally," she said.

"It is important for us to collect data because it identifies the activities and general sources of pollution, can be used for pollution prevention efforts, can be used to influence legislation [and] promotes public awareness and education," Stanley added.

"ICC is also the largest one-day volunteer event in the world. It is a team-building exercise, which promotes volunteerism and environmental awareness - particularly around solid waste issues. Improper disposal of solid waste is Jamaica's most visible and challenging environmental problems," she said further.

- P.W.R.