Planning and Development Secretary Pennelope Beckles-Robinson has urged the public to respect the environment and be cautious when littering is left along the coast.
At a beach clean up along the Foreshore, off the Audrey Jeffers Highway Cocorite, to commemorate International Coastal Clean-Up Day on Saturday, Beckles-Robinson said: “Think of the turtles they’re basically swallowing bottles and plastic, that is, we need to think about our own health. This is a special appeal to people who have made it a habit to come to the seaside to have a good time and not walk around with garbage bags to dispose of their rubbish properly.
“If we look at the data it tells us millions of pounds will be collected every year, almost 80 per cent of that will be plastic and if you look at the analysis it takes up to 10 years for a simple cigarette bud to be dismantled .”
The event was organized by the Ministry of Planning and Development and supported by several other ministries and NGOs. The cleanup began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted for hours, while hundreds of volunteers removed televisions and other discarded furniture and appliances, as well as hundreds of plastic bottles and worn-out clothing wedged between rocks and trees near the shore.
Beckles-Robinson added: “This exercise has been going on for about 20 years or more, but I think ocean conservation – the movement – has been going on for over 30 years.
“It’s disheartening when you come in and see what the environment looks like. I want to make another appeal and remind that we as a nation can choose when we come to our beaches that they should be cleaned because it will negatively affect us all.”
She said the draft Beverage Containers Act and Styrofoam Act were complete and nearing reaching Parliament for debate.
She said consultations on the Styrofoam Act were complete and a guideline should be ready soon.
“A lot of this has to do with education, and when we complete this exercise, we will do the data analysis that would help with policymaking and legalization.”
She hopes the country can reach a stage where citizens no longer need to be monitored and encouraged to preserve and protect the environment.
“Until then, it has to be a combination of government policy, legalization and surveillance, but we know that in most countries that have been successful, it’s really because of the communities that have taken personal responsibility for their spaces.”