‘Typhoon debris a threat to marine life’

Super Typhoon Yutu’s howling winds of over 180 mph two weeks ago has left the Saipan lagoon littered with harmful debris that pose a threat to marine life.

That includes an assortment of items made of tin, lumber, metal, green waste, etc.—typhoon debris that are extremely harmful to the many animals that call the Saipan lagoon home, according to Micronesian Islands Nature Alliance executive director Roberta Guerrero.

“Debris is definitely harmful to marine life and, aside from the tin and large debris, all the small pieces, plastics, Styrofoam and other pollutants are a severe threat to the health of the lagoon and marine life,” she said in an online interview.

Currently, MINA has not been able to enter the Saipan lagoon to start clearing it of typhoon debris as the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality is still in the process of assessing the lagoon.

Instead, the alliance has started clearing the Saipan coastline of typhoon debris.

“MINA has begun the process of removing the debris that affects the most vulnerable coastlines in the nearshore lagoon. This is being done in cooperation with BECQ,” said Guerrero.

She acknowledged that they are just in the beginning. “This is only the very beginning of the cleanup of beaches but, with small steps every day, improvements are being made,” she said.

Other groups have also taken the initiative to clear the lagoon of typhoon debris like the 500 Sails’ Dolphin Club and DFS T Galleria staff.

Aside from the actual cleanup work that’s ongoing, MINA’s Tasi Watch rangers are also conducting coastal assessment around the island to determine which areas are the most affected “and setting priorities to address those most vulnerable sites for cleanup,” said Guerrero.

She said that MINA is currently participating in the CNMI Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters in an effort to make all volunteer cleanup efforts efficient.

Guerrero said that volunteers are welcome to help MINA. “We encourage everyone to add their names to the VOAD volunteer master list,” she said.

Interested VOAD volunteers may contact Gospel Trinidad at (670) 285-3648.

For more information, individuals may also email MINA at minaoutreach@gmail.com, or call 233-7333.

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.

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