La Belle Creole beach cleaned up – Hundreds of volunteers at coastal cleanup

POSTED: 09/17/12 1:41 PM

NETTLE BAY- The 2012 International Coastal Cleanup organized by the St. Maarten Pride Foundation and the French side hiking group SXM Trails attracted hundreds of volunteers yesterday morning. They cleared a huge amount of debris from La Belle Creole Beach in Nettle Bay.
Before 8:00 a.m. yesterday La Belle Creole’s beach was littered with plastic bottles, empty food containers, soda cans, old furniture, cigarette butts, oxidized steel equipment, plastic bags, broken glass bottles, wood pallets and other forms of debris. But by 11:00 am, more than 320 volunteers were able to collect more than 1,833 pounds of trash. The weirdest trash recorded was an old suitcase filled with VHS tapes of videos from the 1980s.
This was the 27th annual International Coastal Clean Up organized by the Ocean Conservancy which uses the data gathered by individual countries to influence policy making and rally support for the protection of oceans and other areas of ecological significance.
Although archeological experts were on the ground, most of the focus while collecting debris was not to ascertain how long it had been on or near the shoreline but to record its composition and weight. Various items of plastic in particular post significant threats to wildlife and the number one type of debris collected were plastic bottles. It will take a few days before all of the results are tabulated and sent to the Ocean Conservancy but St. Maarten Pride did release some of its preliminary finds yesterday afternoon on its Facebook page. Pride President Jadira Veen said that it is a tedious process to categorize waste based on the Ocean Conservancy’s standards but it gives environmentalists a more accurate picture of the current situation.
Yesterday’s coastal cleanup saw a unique collaboration between the Pride and French hiking group SXM Trails. The latter’s experience along rough terrain came in handy as some of the most threatening debris such as old fans and other electrical equipment were partially hidden by the foliage and rocks, far removed from the shoreline. This the first time that the clean up went to the French side and according to Veen smaller beach cleanups are planned for the remainder of September.
Youth volunteers in particular were lauded for joining in the effort to make a difference. Members of the Rotaract Sunrise Club, the Collectivité d’Outre Mer de St.Martin, Dolphin Defenders and the Windward Island Bank also maintained a visibly active presence throughout the activity.
The first official clean-up was arranged by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986 and took place along the Texas shoreline. Since then, the effort has evolved into the International Coastal Clean-up we know today. During last year’s event alone, nearly 600,000 volunteers were mobilized to clean coastal beaches and inland waterway all over the world.

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