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'Jamaica is drowning in a sea of plastics’

Boat tour of Kingston Harbour unearths startling images

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 25, 2014    

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JOURNALISTS and development partners of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) last Thursday saw what programme director Suzanne Stanley meant when she said: "Jamaica is drowning in a sea of plastics".

On a boat tour of the Kingston Harbour, site after site seemed like virtual exhibitions of every type of solid waste imaginable -- refrigerators, television sets, clothes baskets, buckets, truck tyres, shoes, styrofoam boxes and cups, plastic bags and bottles.

The tour served as the media launch of International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICC) 2014 and the one-year Clean Coasts Project, which JET and its partners hope will not only clean the areas, but address the problem at source by engaging students and adults living and working in resort areas in more long-term, sustainable practices intended to put the spotlight on the importance of proper waste disposal to reduce coastal pollution.

ICC is scheduled for Saturday, September 20. Already it has 114 locations registered as clean-up sites and some 8,000 volunteers are expected to participate this year.

JET is the national co-ordinator for ICC, a global event organised by the Ocean Conservancy. In addition to supporting clean-up sites across the island on the day, it also does its own activity. Last year the environmental non-governmental organisation attracted 2,356 volunteers, who collected from a three-mile stretch of beach at Fort Rocky near Port Royal, over 800 bags of garbage weighing nearly 12,500 pounds. Included in that were 27,000 plastic bottles.

"That's quite a significant figure for just three miles of coastline," Stanley said yesterday..

Across the island, some 6,482 volunteers worked on 62.7 miles of coast, from which they collected 65,653 pounds of garbage in 4,223 bags.

Kingston Harbour is the world's seventh largest natural harbour.

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