The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has embarked on an ‘Adopt a Beach’ programme aimed at encouraging people of all ages to become directly involved in cleaning the coastlines.
The volunteer effort is designed to increase public awareness and responsibility on the issue of marine litter.
It is part of the agency’s education drive geared at promoting proper waste management and environmentally safe practices.
The programme will allow groups, communities and individuals to select and clean up beaches on a monthly or quarterly basis as a means of maintaining the areas throughout the year and minimising marine litter.
Communities and groups are given garbage bags, gloves and other tools necessary for their clean-up projects.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Public Relations Officer at NEPA, Deleen Powell, said the initiative was prompted by the need for ongoing clean-up of beaches outside of the once per year effort on International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD).
“We do not want people to just come in and clean up the beach on that day and then forget about the issue; we want it to continue year-round. So last year, during ICCD, we spoke to persons about the way that they generate waste in their daily activities and try to get them to avoid those kinds of practice,” Powell outlined.
The public-education activity, she noted, sparked interest, resulting in some 30 groups and entities registering to be a part of the ‘Adopt a Beach’ programme.
Participation is open to community organisations, service clubs, schools, businesses as well as groups with a minimum of three individuals over the age of 18 years.
Participants are required to adopt a beach for a minimum of one year, and must engage in at least four clean-up exercises over the period, including the annual ICCD.
“NEPA provides resources and technical support to the groups; we provide them with a list of possible sites that could be selected for their ‘Adopt a Beach’ initiative… so once they have selected that beach, they sign an adoption contract with NEPA agreeing to the requirements,” Powell outlined.
“We just ask that they host their clean-ups and organise them to the best of their ability. So they would make the provisions for the collection of the garbage with support from NEPA, mobilise their volunteers, send the information to us, and we can then craft a report on the amount and types of garbage. From that we make recommendations in terms of how we can manage non-biodegradable waste,” she noted further.
Persons interested in the ‘Adopt a Beach’ programme may contact NEPA at 754-7540 or visit the website at www.nepa.gov.jm. for further details.