DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS GETS READY TO LEAD EAST LONDON BEACH CLEANUP IN CONJUNCTION WITH SUSTAINABLE SEAS TRUST
On Saturday 19th September, East Londoners will join hundreds of thousands of volunteers all across the world in celebrating the 26th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. To mark the occasion, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Thomson will be heading a community cleanup of Eastern Beach, whereby participants from all walks of life will have the opportunity to help rid the beachfront of unsightly litter. South African conservation organisation Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) will also be in attendance, running a photography-based awareness project for local children in conjunction with the cleanup.
Now renowned as the world’s largest all-volunteer event in aid of the marine environment, International Coastal Cleanup Day began from humble origins. In 1986, members of conservation non-profit Ocean Conservancy launched the Texas Coastal Cleanup, in an effort to address the problem of littering on the state’s beaches. Three years later, the initiative went global, and has been gaining momentum ever since. Last year, 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries collected over 7.2 million kilograms of trash as part of the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup. Each item collected is carefully identified and recorded, and the data generated has helped Ocean Conservancy to inform environmental legislation in several countries since the event’s inception.conservation organisation Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) will also be in attendance, running a photography-based awareness project for local children in conjunction with the cleanup.
East London’s involvement in this year’s cleanup marks a positive step towards increased environmental awareness in an area beleaguered by marine debris. Many of our spectacular local beaches are marred by the presence of human litter - including plastic bags, bottles, cigarette filters and discarded fishing equipment. From a human perspective, dirty beaches impact negatively on tourism, and may pose a health threat to beach-goers. The environmental ramifications are even more severe, as human litter found in coastal habitats often ends up in the ocean.
Smaller items are mistaken for food by marine animals, causing suffocation and starvation; whilst larger items can cause entanglement, leading to injury and death.
Often, those that litter are oblivious to these consequences - and as such, the purpose of the International Coastal Cleanup is to increase public awareness. The photography project to be run by SST on the day hopes to encourage children in particular to get involved, and to teach them the importance of conservation and sustainability. The organisation has recently completed a pilot project whereby children from disadvantaged schools are given cameras to use on field trips to the beach. Through photography, the children learn to focus on the beauty of the marine environment, and become inspired to protect it as a result.
The children are also taught how to use photography as a research tool, in conjunction with other techniques including measuring, counting, and data input. In this way, the project encourages an increased competency in arithmetic and computer literacy, whilst inspiring a greater interest in science and the environment. SST hopes that this ongoing project will help to address the critical lack of science and maths proficiency in South African schools, and encourage children to hone the skills they need to achieve successful and fulfilling careers in the future. This Saturday, SST will be giving children the chance to document the cleanup in their own way, with the help of 30 cameras donated to the organisation by Canon South Africa.
To find out more about getting involved with the cleanup, please contact Paul Sigutya at PSigutya@environment.gov.za
To find out more about SST’s photography project for children, please contact Dr. Anthony Ribbink at email@example.com