By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
BEACHES are one of the country’s most valuable assets, and in observance of the 32nd International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday some 600 volunteers will comb the beaches on Grand Bahama removing trash and marine debris.
The major global effort is being held under the theme, ‘Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash.’
The event is being coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism, the Keep Grand Bahama Clean Committee, and the Bahamas National Trust.
Jeffrey Pinder, a senior executive of Sustainable Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism, said beach clean-up would take place between 8am and 10am, and persons are invited to join in and help tackle this vexing problem.
He stressed that the ministry is pleased to be a part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) for the last 30 plus years, coordinating clean-up efforts between Grand Bahama and New Providence, collecting data from various beach locations on the two islands.
“We want to find out how is it that garbage, whether it is marine debris, plastic, cups, are ending up on our beaches,” he said on Friday during a press conference held at Xanadu Beach.
According to Mr Pinder, the effort in Grand Bahama is well supported with some 600-student volunteers from the various public and private schools on Grand Bahama.
Each group will consist of 20 volunteers and two coordinators who will canvas the shoreline and beaches on the island from east to west.
Mr Pinder thanked all the local sponsors for assisting in providing gloves and water for the hundreds of volunteers who will be participating.
“We want to thank Solomons, FOCOL, Dolly Madison, Sawyers Fresh Mart, and others that have assisted us with this ICC event which is in its 32nd year, and we are happy to be able to do this especially since the passing of the last storm.
“We want to show GB is resilient and that we are ready for customers. This is especially important for the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) because our beaches are on one of the biggest attractions for cruise ship passengers to the island.”
Mr Pinder noted that 60 to 80 per cent of the cruise passengers who come off the ship would end up on one of our beaches.
“It is important to make sure that not only are they clean, but that we have an idea where this garbage is coming from,” he said.
Oletha Gardiner, co-chairperson of the Keep Grand Bahama Clean Committee, said they always partner with the MOT in the ICC efforts.
“We are pleased to be a part of this effort this year, just after the recent passing of the storm. The KGBC mandate is that everybody is responsible for keeping our island clean and wants to continue to spread that message.”
Ms Gardiner said the committee has partnered with schools as well as civic organizations to keep the island clean.
“Our beaches are one of our prize possessions in the country; we want to make sure we do our part to keep our environment clean,” she said.
The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is the largest single-day volunteer cleanup effort in the world tackling the growing threat of trash in the world’s oceans. Trash is one of the most visible and most prolific threats facing our ocean today; it’s also one of the most preventable, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism.
It indicated that worldwide, more than 500,000 people participated in last year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), removing nearly 18.4 million pounds (more than 8.3 million kg) of trash from oceans and waterways.
According to the statement, since the first ICC 32 years ago, more than 12 million volunteers have removed over 228 million pounds (more than 103 million kilograms) of trash.