5 reasons to clean your waterways

TIDE and the surrounding schools are taking part in the International Coastal Clean Up on the 18th and 19th of September. The coastal clean is the world’s largest volunteer effort to remove litter from beaches and waterways. Last year almost 2000 people removed of trash from more than 27 miles of coastline around Belize.

Cleaning the coast is extremely important as marine litter has become a current and dangerous environmental, economic and health problem around the world.  Marine litter is carried long distances in all oceans due to marine currents and winds.  It is found on the water surface, the seabed, in populated areas, but also remote islands.   Litter such as plastic is long lived and will continue to negatively affect our planet into the future.

 Here are 5 reasons to clean your waterways:

1. Silent killer:

Litter can kill. Marine animals die by either ingesting it or becoming entangled in litter within water bodies. Sea turtles mistake litter for food and ingest plastic bags instead of jellyfish. This can be lethal as debris can block turtle’s stomachs causing them to starve or puncture their intestinal systems. A study conducted by the University of Queensland found that 50% of green sea turtles are likely to ingest man-made trash! As a result, six out of seven marine sea turtle species are now listed as globally vulnerable and endangered. Inquisitive animals such as seals, sea lions, manatees, dolphins and whales can drown by becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets (known as ghost fishing). Sea birds are heavily affected by ghost fishing as many species dive deep to catch food; even scuba divers have drowned after getting caught in nets.

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2. Loss of stock:

Marine litter affects the wildlife around it.  Trash is present floating on the water surface but also on the sea floor.  These layers of plastic may limit the amount of oxygen passing from water to sediment and this could cause a reduction in populations of commercial species such as lobster, conch and sea cucumber. This means fishermen lose catch and tour guides have no healthy marine ecosystem to show tourists.

3. Hidden danger:

Litter is an eyesore and reduces the aesthetic value of coastlines. It can also injure swimmers as broken glass and rusty metal can cause people injury if stepped on. Medical waste such as syringes could also transmit infectious diseases.

4. Poisons:

Sewage related waste could cause swimmers to become sick after entering the water. Plastics are also thought to release toxins that could make their way into a communities freshwater system and drinking water.

5. Breaks boats:

Fishing gear and ropes can get caught in boat propellers causing expense. It is estimated that each fishing boat could lose between $10,000 US - $45,000 US per year due to the negative effect of litter!

How else can you help?

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The 3 R’s

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:

Reduce your use of cheap, disposable plastic packaging.

Reuse plastic bags when visiting the shops.

Recycle your glass, paper, metal and plastics.

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Sea birds are heavily affected by ghost fishing as many species dive deep to catch food; even scuba divers have drowned after getting caught in nets.

 

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