EAG reps shed light on coastal pollution

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The state of coastal pollution remains a major issue worldwide, even with the moves made by governments and private sector organizations to curb its impact.

Locally, the single-use plastic and Styrofoam bans have effected some change, but there is still a long way to go to be environmentally sound.

Speaking on OBSERVER AM yesterday, Arica Hill – Executive Director of the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) – shed some light on the state of coastal pollution locally.

“It is a considerable situation; it’s not something that we can take lightly but, in the Caribbean, I guess, we can feel like ‘oh you know that’s elsewhere in the world and not necessarily close to us’ but the truth is it depends on how your water flows.

“In Puerto Rico they have beaches that all of the trash from around the world washes up on their shores or you have the situation in Barbuda where you have what you call a garbage beach because there is so much trash that washes up on that shore, so we may not always feel it definitively in Antigua because of how our currents are, but it is a significant problem and we are seeing it. Sometimes when you go snorkeling, you may not see it with the naked eye, but as soon as you put on those snorkels, it’s bad.”

The EAG, in seeking to address this continuous environmental hazard, is promoting a “Trash Challenge” as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day activities.

Shanna Challenger – Coordinator at the Redonda Restoration Programme – also speaking on OBSERVER AM yesterday, went on to explain the impact that plastic pollution has on our local wildlife.

“We, as humans of course, are able to adapt very quickly and species that we work with are not able to. If you are a pelican for example, you can just be flying around and you’re accustomed to opening your mouth and diving into the water and swallowing whatever is in the water. The bird is not thinking ‘oh there is a plastic cup in there, or a cigarette butt in there, or something’ because they are continuing to do what they are doing for their entire life cycle.”

Challenger also gave an example of how our own plastic pollution could come back to affect us.

“We eat fish, and the issue is the fish are also breathing the water in their gills and they can get the microplastic, so a big thing about plastic pollution is the fact that the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and so when you are eating this fish now that is filled with the microplastics then you are now consuming the plastic as well, which causes health problems.”

International Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual preservation and protection event geared toward securing the world’s oceans.

This year’s event will be executed on September 21, locally, at Pensioners Beach, with a special underwater cleanup scheduled for Pigeon Point Beach.

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