Environment Minister, Dr. Denis Lowe. (FP)

An increase in the amount of debris found on Barbados’ shoreline and in the ocean is raising concerns over the state of the island’s marine environment.

And, Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, has labeled the increase as "unappreciable", as he made reference recently to the findings of the National Marine Litter Monitoring Programme – Marine Litter Report on the Morgan Lewis Beach for 2011.

Figures contained in the report showed that 3, 868 items of litter were collected from that beach in 2011; an increase over the 2010 figure which saw 2, 261 items being collected.

The study, which started in 2006, saw 4,646 items being collected from the beach, before increasing to 5,539 items in 2007. That figure decreased to 3,871 in 2008, but increased again to 4,408 items in 2009.

"What these increases are telling us is that while we have made some progress there is still a long way to go in impressing on the minds and consciousness of Barbadians that it is a disservice to our country to continue to practise littering and illegal dumping," Dr. Lowe said.

He added that Government was continuing its efforts to protect its natural resources from the "lawless activity of illegal dumping".

"We have taken our efforts from land-based pollution to marine-based pollution so as to ensure that the ecosystems of the marine are equally protected; our coral reefs, our plant species, as well as the variety of other living things [such as] fish and turtles are guarded against, [and] are protected from the perils of illegal dumping," the Minister noted.

He maintained that all this was being done in an effort to safeguard the island’s beaches and ensure that Barbados achieved its goal of becoming the greenest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"It means that we will have to continue to vigorously pursue those persons who create this distasteful distraction, and in so doing break the law at the same time," he said.

Dr. Lowe added that the Ministry’s plea was simple: "Our adult population must do better in curbing this unwelcomed and unwarranted practice of littering and illegal dumping on our shores, and they must also seek to impress on their children the virtues and the values of being part of keeping our country clean.

"Whether it is land-based or whether it is marine-based, the story is the same – we must keep Barbados clean."

Acting Senior Pollution Officer at the Environmental Protection Department, Carlon Worrell, said the study showed that garbage dumped on land was affecting the sea.

He, too urged residents to desist from littering and illegal dumping, pointing out that everything occurring on land could affect the shoreline.

The acting Senior Pollution Officer warned that some of the marine life could become trapped in the litter, or even attempt to eat some of the plastic that was discarded into the water.

Among the items collected during the clean-up were rope, gas canisters, a scuba diving tank, a contact lens case, a plastic chair, syringes, a fire extinguisher and a toilet brush.


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