Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Record youth turnout for Hellshire Bay Beach clean-up

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Volunteers in action at the beach clean-up project at Hellshire Bay Beach on International Coastal Clean-up Day 2017 on Saturday. The project, led by the Urban Development Corporation, saw over 1,500 mostly young volunteers participating in the effort to clear debris from the beach and capture data on the items collected. International Beach Clean-up Day is an initiative of Ocean Conservancy and is the largest global volunteer effort geared toward ocean health.

On the heels of International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day 2017 and what has been its largest ever annual beach clean-up project at the Hellshire Bay Beach in St Catherine, general manager of the Urban Development Corporation, Dr Damion Graham, has appealed to Jamaicans to "shift our attitudes towards the environment".

Speaking at the close of the event, which saw some 1,542 mostly young Jamaicans joining hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world simultaneously clearing debris from coastal areas, Graham, in applauding the volunteers, said there was a need for the activity to become commonplace if Jamaica is to maintain ecologically sustainable attractions.

"In our compelling story at the UDC, we talk about making development happen in a way that we have ecologically sustainable attractions. For me, the entire Jamaica is an attraction, and so people have to take more pride and care in their environment. We (have surpassed) our target of getting over 1,200 persons here. There, however, needs to be some shift in our attitudes towards the environment," Graham pointed out.




In further appealing to Jamaicans to "be proud of your country," he said, "People believe when you are driving and passing a gully ,you can just throw things away. That's not responsible. The 'away' becomes right here at our beach, where you want to come with your family, where you want the one and five million tourists to come in the next five years. The 'away' becomes when you go to the fish market and you have no fish to eat because they have been consuming toxins and the reef is dying. The 'away' becomes when you have no more Hawksbill turtles or crocodiles, or your shrimp population is completely dying."

In the meantime, the UDC general manager said the entity was partnering with sister agency, the National Environment and Planning Agency, "to drive the awareness and the sensitisation that we need to take care of our beaches and the environment".

He noted, "Our coastline is inundated with garbage washing down from the rivers that come out into the harbour, and they make the beaches a bad experience."

Last year, a total of 273 bags of non-recyclable garbage weighing 1812.6 kilogrammes were collected at the clean-up site, while recyclable garbage amounted to 229 bags weighing 1145.1 kilogrammes. This was achieved by 1,089 volunteers from community groups, schools, government and non-governmental organisations who supported the project.