By Samsideen Ceesay
The National Environment Agency over the weekend embarked on a massive beach cleansing exercise marking International Coastal Clean-up Day.
They were in collaboration with the EU and other stakeholders.
By the theme Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash, they cleaned four coastal settlements – Tanji, Senegambia, Bakau and Banjul.
The International Coastal Clean-up Day is a local volunteering event celebrated in communities worldwide on every 3 September. However, this year’s commemoration was marked on 15 September.
The objective was to increase awareness and remove debris from the coastline.
Speaking at the event, environment minister, Lamin Dibba, said plastics are very hazardous to the marine life, killing more than a million birds and over 100,000 seals, turtles and whales and large number of fish in our ocean.
“There is great concern about the effect of plastic rubbish on marine mammals in particular, because many of these creatures are already under threat of extinction for a variety of other reasons e.g whale population has been decimated by uncontrolled hunting”.
Illustrating his point, he said a plastic bag looks like a tasty jellyfish to an indiscriminate feeder like the sea turtle, “but plastic is indigestible. It can choke, block the intestines of, or cause infection in those animals that consume it.
“The coastal cleanup day is important for stakeholders in the coastal zone where families, students, service groups, neighbors will come together and take part care of our fragile coastal and marine environment, show community support for our shared natural resources, learn about the impacts of waste dump in the marine environment and how we can prevent them.”
Dibba said the cleaning of our coastal and marine ecosystems is not only consistent to the objectives of the National Cleansing Day, “but also in line with our obligation as enshrined in the National Environment Management Act (Nema) 1994 and other national environment legislations and regulations.”
Dr Dawda Badgie, deputising the executive director of NEA, said empowering people to take an active role in the preservation and cleaning up of the ocean are important parts of helping conservation of the ocean.
He said International Coastal Clean-up Day encourages people to participate to help limit littering on our beaches.