Earth Today | United for clean beaches
EU partners to clean Port Royal Beach on International Coastal Clean-Up Day
THE EUROPEAN Union Delegation to Jamaica recently collaborated with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) for the global campaign for clean, plastic-free oceans, leading a beach clean-up activity at the Port Royal Beach on Saturday, September 16.
The occasion was International Coastal Clean-Up Day 2023, coordinated locally by JET; and comes as global statistics reveal that plastics make up approximately 80 per cent of the litter that ends up in the ocean or on coastlines, adversely affecting tourism, fishery industries, naval transport, and biodiversity.
EU Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen, who led the team of more than 130 volunteers, has stressed the importance of protecting coastal areas.
“In a country like Jamaica, we are privileged to witness the beauty of the coastal areas and the richness of marine life. However, we understand that preserving this natural treasure is not just about protection; it’s about ongoing maintenance, education, and ensuring the well-being of the communities that call these areas home,” she said.
“It’s also crucial for people to realise that marine pollution and ocean clean-up efforts are intricately linked to our own well-being. The fish we eat can carry the burden of marine pollution, and when we consume them, it affects us directly. Our commitment to cleaning our oceans is, in essence, a commitment to our own health,” she added.
The more than 130 volunteers included representatives from EU Member States Embassies – Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain – in addition to youth advocates from The University of the West Indies Guild, the Caribbean Maritime Institute, Earth Ambassadeurs, and members of the Port Royal community.
Meanwhile, as part of ongoing efforts, Van Steen said the EU is working with the Government of Jamaica on a ‘Sustainable Kingston’ project, which aims to address sanitation issues in Kingston with specific focus on downtown and the Kingston Harbour.
“Kingston Harbour is in urgent need of our collective attention. The relentless inflow of solid waste from Kingston’s gullies poses a grave threat, suffocating the precious mangroves that are not only the guardians of our shoreline against erosion but also serve as vital fish nurseries. We all have a collective responsibility to act swiftly and decisively to preserve and restore the health of this invaluable natural treasure. The ‘Sustainable Kingston’ project will help to address this issue directly,” the ambassador added.
Climate change and urban renewal are priority areas of focus under the EU’s current programme of support to the Government of Jamaica. EU support contributes to raising awareness, education, and capacity-building in local communities.