The world’s largest annual volunteer effort for ocean health, the International Coastal Clean-Up (ICC), will once again take place this year on Saturday, 15 September 2012 when volunteers from all walks of life hit the country’s beaches between 09:00 – 12:00 in an effort to keep our country’s beaches beautiful and litter free.
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 mobilised to clean coastal beaches and inland waterways all over the world. South-Africa was ranked 6th on the list of top 10 participating countries.
“Along with our partners at Ocean Conservancy and KZN Conservation Services, we try to educate people that plastics don’t litter, people do”, says John Kieser, Sustainability Manager of Plastics|SA and national coordinator for the ICC. “Plastics|SA also signed the Plastics Industry’s Global Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter, to express our commitment to address plastics marine debris. We are working hard to make South Africans aware of the role they play in littering and that used plastics should be recycled – not strewn on our beaches.”
488 km of shoreline covered
During last year’s event, 21 000 South African volunteers covered a distance of 488 km along our country’s shoreline, where they collected a staggering 44 738 kilograms of debris. Underwater clean-ups also took place with the help of 154 divers who removed 1 687 kg of debris from the ocean’s floor. Results from last year’s clean-ups show that packaging litter continues to be a problem on South Africa’s beaches.
According to Kieser, the work doesn’t end after the beach clean-ups. Local coordinators collect and compile raw data from the clean-ups to paint a better picture of marine debris sources in an effort to actively address the link between human activities and debris. This comprehensive look at the human handprint of marine debris helps to educate government, scientists and the public.
“It’s about prevention just as much as it is about cleaning up”, Kieser explains.