‘We are not responsible for cleaning up beaches’

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The responsibility of getting rid of fecal matter from beach sites does not lie in the hands of the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality alone, according to bureau administrator Frank Rabauliman.

Of course, the BECQ could do it but cleaning up beaches should be more of a joint effort among government agencies. If it becomes a joint effort, BECQ would be more than happy to take part, he added.

Rabauliman told Saipan Tribune a few weeks ago that they had uncovered fecal matter on mostly remote beach sites.

He said maintenance of these beaches does not fall within their purview and the public should not hold BECQ responsible for clearing up these beaches.

Rabauliman also feels that cleaning out these areas will not keep the issue from resurfacing, adding that his crew has cleaned these areas once or twice since finding out about it but the issue continues to crop up.

BECQ initially pushed to close these areas indefinitely but decided against the idea as it would only hurt the revenue the island gets from tourism.

Instead, Rabauliman said, the concept of restricting tourist access to sites that are contaminated with human feces could be implemented if a similar plan to restrict access to the Grotto takes off.

With these areas gated, crowds will not only be controlled but entrance fees could also be put into place in order to fund the establishment of restroom facilities and trash bins.

According to Rabauliman, he is aware that the development of facilities in these areas is essential, but it would take funds to set up the facilities and maintain them.

Rabauliman is sure that the fecal matter is not generated by animals because they were covered with toilet paper and are not left behind by local residents because, according to him, “who would drive all the way to these hidden beaches just to do this?”

According to Rabauliman, since their last cleanup, these mostly remote beaches still continue to remain polluted with both fecal remnants and garbage bags, but until a long-term solution is found, they will not clean these areas aside from their monthly commitment to pick up as much trash as they can every first Saturday of the month.

Aside from restricting access to tourist sites, the tour guide certification program has since been established at the Northern Marianas College in conjunction with Marianas Visitors Authority.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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