TO mark World Wetland Day 2023, over 1,000 pounds of garbage was cleared from the mangroves in the Freeport section of Montego Bay, St James, by a contingent led by the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust and Sandals Resorts volunteers from the Montego Bay area last Saturday.
A proud Hugh Shim, executive director of the Montego Bay Marine Trust, was effusive in his praise for the support of the annual event given by Sandals Resorts and other entities over the past several years.
"We are happy that the Sandals team is here again this year since their resorts consistently help with our environmental clean-up efforts," Shim noted while lamenting the fact that residents of the area should take more pride in preserving the mangroves throughout the year. He also thanks the other volunteers for joining the environmental effort.
Citing the importance of mangroves, Shim said "if all of the garbage gets into the wetlands it can damage the ecosystem and the mangroves won't be able to filter out most of the debris coming off the land, act as a barrier against waves as well as filter and clean the water."
"These wetlands are part of the cleaning system for the coastline," the executive director noted. "So if we don't protect it, then everybody will suffer."
He urged the taxi drivers and other persons who toss garbage into the mangroves to desist from doing so and become more environmentally aware.
Environment, health, and safety manager for Sandals Montego Bay, Haniff Richards, who was one of the leaders of the Sandals team which also included staff from Sandals Royal Caribbean, observed that "At Sandals, one of our core duties is to commit to environmental sustainability. We are here with the Sandals Earth Guardian today not only to rid the mangroves of waste material with the help of the Montego Bay Marine Park but also as a way to educate our team members about the importance of saving our natural habitats and aquatic life. It's important that we take care of our environment as it takes care of us."
Front office agent at Sandals Royal Caribbean Joel Brown offered his reason for volunteering. "As a Sandals Earth Guardian, it's good to know that my company prioritises initiatives for the betterment of the environment. Environmental sustainability is very important to me personally and the activity today is something I'm grateful for and look forward to doing more of this in the future."