EDITORIAL - Beaches a vital part of our our lives


This weekend will see a continued effort in the coastal clean-up of this island as the Caribbean Youth Environment Network joins with partners such as the Environmental Protection Department to clean up 50 beaches across the country.
Last year over 4 000 pounds of garbage was collected from 20 beaches with the help of over 600 volunteers. This year, it is hoped that Barbadians come out once again to keep this ‘gem of the Caribbean’ shinning.
So far for 2016, underwater clean-ups have been undertaken in collaboration with the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) and diving clubs every second Saturday of the month, yielding loads of waste from this island’s sparkling waters. At Folkestone Marine Reserve Park alone, over 150 pounds of garbage was collected.
This garbage stems from illegal dumping and littering and can see everything from plastic and rubber to glass and metal being thrown into the sea, or discarded on land then making its way to the sea. In some cases garbage from other countries as far as South America or South Africa, and from marine vessels in international waters, can end up in local waters.
Litter can pose economic, health problems
We are all aware of the importance of beaches and coastal zones, especially to small islands. Failure to protect these areas could be detrimental in so many ways. A build-up of litter on beaches and underwater, which is unsightly and unsanitary, could also act as a deterrent to visitors, thereby affecting Barbados’ foreign exchange-earning capacity. 
Another consequence of poor practices is pollution of sea water due to run-off from land or from commercial businesses, which could lead to health problems.
In the past we have seen the importance of beaches and coastal life to society and an economy, when oil spills affected the Gulf of Mexico.
With this in mind, The Barbados Advocate takes this opportunity to commend all the relevant organisations, whether state-run or non-governmental, for their efforts thus far in protecting our beaches.
Coming immediately to mind is the work of particular departments in the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, for instance the CZMU.
However, special mention must be made of the National Conservation Commission, for seeking to implement a Beach Management Plan. Key to the success of this plan is the role of the public in protecting Barbados’ coastal areas. Yet, in addition to developing awareness of the issue, individuals must also get involved and put what they have learned into practice. Persons need to take a personal interest in this island’s beaches. 
They are not just for fun and games, they are an important part of our lives and our livelihood. And the sooner we come to this realisation, the better.

Barbados Advocate

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