Beach trash kills wildlife

| 17/03/2009

(CNS): The Lions Club of Cayman Brac continued its campaign to keep the Brac’s beaches beautiful last weekend by inviting the public to help them clean up three areas of coastline on the island. About 40 people came out over and picked up items such as plastics, bottles, clothing. Fazileta Yusuf, Chair of the Environment Committee, said there was a serious concern about the amount of plastic rubbish collected on the beach, which can have serious consequences for animals.

On 28 July 2008, the Lions Club of Cayman Brac conducted a beach cleanup on about a 300m length of beach in the Spot bay area (behind the Spot Bay primary school). “We thought that it was important that we play a role in protecting and preserving our beaches. At that time, about thirty six 30 gallon garbage bags filled with garbage were collected along with some larger items such as buckets, nets and part of a boat,” Yusuf said. Most of the litter collected appeared to have been washed in by the sea and is therefore coming from fishing boats and cargo ships, the club found.

On Saturday 28 February 2009, the Lions aided by members of the Leo club, took to the beaches again. This time, the aim was to clear the beaches of debris that was still left back from Hurricane Paloma. The beach area adjacent to the Divi Tiara complex was cleared of fallen trees, washed up dead seaweeds, and other debris from the hurricane. Yusuf said members were disappointed to sea a large number of human-generated garbage such as bottles, boxes, plastics and clothing thrown all over the beach.

On the weekend of 7 and 8 March, the club went further with the beach clean-up campaign and invited the entire public to come out and assist with the cleanup of the Public Beach, the remaining sections of the beach area adjacent to Divi Tiara and the beach area long the Stake Bay loop. Approximately 40 people came out over that weekend and assisted in the cleanup of those Beaches. Again, plastics, bottles, clothing, and metals were among the popular items collected. Members were grateful to all those who assisted and urge you to continue to support your community service organizations in their efforts to build better communities, Yusuf said.

“We are however, once again reminding the general public of the threats posed by marine litter. Marine lifeas well as seaside birds can be harmed by this litter. One of the hazards of marine litter includes entanglement. Many animals can become ensnared by litter. The litter can become embedded in the flesh as tissue grows around it. Entanglement may also cause injury and wounds as the animal tries to disentangle itself from netting or ropes, which can also subsequently lead to infections. Another hazard is ingestion. Many sea creatures including the leather back turtles have been found to ingest litter, either accidentally or because they look similar to prey species. Once inside, litter can block intestines preventing digestion leading to starvation. It can also accumulate in the stomach making the animal ‘full’ and reducing the instinct to feed, again leading to starvation,” Yusuf noted.

The Lions reported that the litter washed up on the beaches is only a tiny portion of the marine debris. According to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), a UK charity dedicated to caring for their seas, 70% of litter sinks to the seabed. Much of this seaborne debris is very persistent and does not breakdown easily and therefore presents a long term and cumulative risk to many marine mammals. The marine litter that causes such problems comes from a wide variety of sources these include: Fishing boats, merchant shipping, ferries, sewage related debris, recreational vessels, offshore installations and fish farms.

”The Lions and Leos clubs of Cayman Brac will remain committed to protecting and preserving the beaches and are encouraging everyone to help us. We all like a nice clean beach. It provides an avenue for social gatherings, relaxation and health benefits through swimming. It is up to everyone to take the responsibility to ensure that the beaches are clean, clear and safe. The simple message from the Lions and Leos is, don’t litter! Preserve today for a brighter tomorrow” said Yusuf.

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