Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey; British High Commissioner, Janet Douglas; Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod and Special Representative for the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, Stephen Harris, pose for a photograph following their meeting. (S.Forde/BGIS)

Barbados has impressed upon Special Representative of Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), Stephen Harris, the importance of marine space management to its socioeconomic development.

Mr. Harris recently paid a courtesy call on Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, and Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, as part of his visit to four CARICOM countries – Belize, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and Jamaica.

In their discussions, Ministers Humphrey and Prescod outlined the marine challenges Barbados has been facing, such as Sargassum seaweed, damage and loss of coral reefs, ocean stewardship, pollution, and plastics.

Mr. Humphrey emphasized that Barbados is “a small contributor in the grand scheme of pollution”, and is more likely to be severely affected by climate change, and the time had come for more developed countries to have a unified response to Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs).

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “PFAs are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFOA and PFOS are very persistent in the environment and in the human body…meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time, there is evidence that exposure to PFAs can lead to adverse human health effects”.

Mr. Harris commended Barbados for implementation of its plastics ban and stated that he would take the concerns of both ministers back to the CCOA.

He stressed that only through changing attitudes and behaviours can the overarching issue of marine pollution be addressed. He said he believes educational programmes within schools and public outreach programmes could play a key role in the future.

The CCOA is the Commonwealth Blue Charter “action group” to tackle plastic pollution in the ocean and great lakes.

The CCOA members have committed their intention to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, through one or more of the following: take steps to eliminate all avoidable single-use plastic waste; significantly reduce single-use plastic carrier bags by 2021; and ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetic and personal care products by 2021.

CCOA members are encouraged to support and implement relevant global initiatives, such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, the UN Clean Seas Initiative, and the London Convention on dumping waste at sea to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering and staying in the ocean.

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