Jamaicans urged to get involved in cleaning beaches

Friday, September 14, 2018

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THE National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is calling for Jamaicans to join its Adopt a Beach programme and get directly involved in cleaning the island's coastlines.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, public relations officer at NEPA, Ollyvia Anderson, said that since the launch of the programme in 2016, several organisations have registered “but the challenge is that not a lot of clean-ups have occurred”.

“So, we are encouraging persons to adopt a beach and embark on this journey to keep Jamaica's coastline clean and protect our marine animals,” she said.

The Adopt a Beach programme is a volunteer effort designed to increase public awareness and responsibility on the issue of marine litter. It is part of NEPA's education drive geared at promoting proper waste management and environmentally safe practices.

The initiative was prompted by the need for ongoing clean-up of beaches outside of the one-day effort on International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD), which will be observed on Saturday (September 15).

The programme, dubbed: 'No Trash Left Behind' allows groups, communities and individuals to select and clean up beaches on a monthly or quarterly basis as a means of maintaining the areas throughout the year and minimising marine litter.

“Marine litter poses a significant threat to a wide range of wildlife such as seabirds, turtles… most of us would have seen small sea turtles with plastics trapped around their outer shell and this is something that we want to prevent, so coastal clean-up is very important,” Anderson pointed out.

Elaborating on how the programme works, she said that participation is open to community organisations, service clubs, schools, businesses as well as groups with a minimum of three individuals over the age of 18 years.

Participants are required to adopt a beach for a minimum of one year, and must host at least five clean-up exercises over the period, including the annual ICCD.

Communities and groups are given an Adopt a Beach starter kit, which contains garbage bags, gloves and other tools necessary for their clean-up projects.

They also receive materials informing them about the programme and the impact of marine debris and how improper solid waste disposal negatively impacts Jamaica's coastline.

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