Volunteers representing government agencies, civic organizations, and students in the CNMI are expected to join millions of others throughout the world in the largest international effort to clean up beaches and other coastal areas.
The 27th Annual International Coastal Cleanup is slated for Friday, Sept. 14, and the CNMI Coastal Resources Management is calling on the community to support this event which promotes trash-free seas and helps raise awareness of the importance of proper waste disposal.
“It's really easy to throw litter on the ground and not think about it but that fact is that it goes to our beaches and our oceans. Trash keeps traveling. So if we can protect the land, we can protect the oceans and the marine life,” said Nicole Schafer, CRM education and outreach coordinator who is at the helm of the International Coastal Cleanup event.
The International Coastal Cleanup is the world's largest volunteer effort to help protect oceans and waterways, and is coordinated internationally by the nonprofit ocean advocacy organization Ocean Conservancy.
Schafer said yesterday that while the coastal cleanup is set for a Friday, those who want to participate in the event but cannot make it on that day due to work or other reasons can still be accommodated the next day.
“Saturday can be an option but initially, we'll be pushing for one big event on Friday,” she said.
Schafer noted that the annual coastal cleanup gets a lot of “repeats” or volunteers who have taken part in the event more than once.
“We always have schools and organizations signing up and we appreciate that,” she said. In fact, a number of government offices have already registered for the upcoming cleanup.
Although targeted areas for the annual event are popular beaches like Paupau, Micro, and Laolao, as well as the Garapan Fishing Base, which is a launching pad for small boating vehicles, Schafer said that volunteers can also choose their own sites to clean up.
Over the past years, millions of volunteers from more than 150 countries and locations join in the International Coastal Cleanup efforts. Of these countries, U.S. has the most number of volunteers, followed by the Philippines, Canada, India, and the Dominican Republic, according to the Ocean Conservancy website.
Schafer disclosed that for 2011, a total of 6,328 lbs of trash in 420 bags were collected in the CNMI, with soda cans and cigarette butts at the top of the list.
Schafer, who arrived on island last July, said she is enjoying the island where people are friendly and have respect for their natural resources “and that makes my job easier.”
She urged the public to join next week's coastal cleanup. CRM will provide the materials for the cleanup while the Department of Public Works will provide the receptacles and do the weighing.
“It will take all the help we can get to protect our ocean and it's a great awareness event,” added Schafer.
To volunteer or for more information, call 664-8300 or 8305.