Plans afoot to clean up beaches

Napier Courier - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN [email protected]

The next time you pull on a pair of gum­boots, pon­der a few facts.

Gum­boots can take 60 years to break down in wa­ter — a tin can may take 100 years and plas­tic bags a few decades.

“Fish­ing ny­lon and poly­styrene never break down,” says Seaweek's HB re­gional co­or­di­na­tor Jake Brookie.

Plans for next year's Seaweek are pro­gress­ing well Jake says, with many events in­clud­ing arts and crafts, guest speak­ers and pub­lic tours. But Jake has big­ger plans.

“I am look­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity of com­mu­nity groups ‘adopt­ing' a sec­tion of coast­line and con­duct­ing four beach cleans a year, each clean a cou­ple of months apart,” he says.

The rub­bish will then be pho­tographed and notes taken about its ori­gin, ma­te­rial and amount.

The aim is for a data­base of lit­ter on the coast­line to note any chang­ing trends. Jake says the in­for­ma­tion would be col­lated and given to the coun­cils, which are re­spon­si­ble for lit­ter en­force­ment (lo­cal and re­gional coun­cils), waste min­imi­sa­tion plans and rub­bish col­lec­tions (lo­cal coun­cils) and the use of the coast­line (re­gional coun­cils).

“So the in­for­ma­tion would be of great use to them.”

The rel­e­vant coun­cils and three com­mu­nity groups have so far agreed to sign up for the scheme.

Jake is hop­ing many more will join in, with the first clean up planned from early Fe­bru­ary to mid March.

The Cathe­dral En­vi­ron­ment Jus­tice and Peace Net­work is one group ready for ac­tion.

Co­or­di­na­tor Jenny Baker be­lieves the high­est pri­or­ity must be to pre­vent rub­bish, par­tic­u­larly plas­tic, from ever en­ter­ing the sea.

“How­ever it is also very im­por­tant to re­move the huge amount that al­ready ex­ists in our oceans, killing marine life and even­tu­ally grind­ing down to form toxic mi­cro plas­tic.”

Jenny says col­lec­tive ac­tion, one stretch of beach at a time, can help re­move what the tide brings up ev­ery day.

“By as­sign­ing groups to ar­eas we can en­sure our lo­cal marine ar­eas are cov­ered for reg­u­lar clean ups.” Jane Gar­diner from Our Seas Our Fu­ture says her or­gan­i­sa­tion is vol­un­teer driven and aims to pro­tect our oceans through ad­vo­cacy, ed­u­ca­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship.

Ruth Smithies from the Catholic Par­ish Care of Cre­ation Group says al­though beach cleans don't change the world with its prob­lems of pol­lu­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, they are tiny steps in the right di­rec­tion.

“They call forth a good­ness which, even if we don't see, is bound to spread."

Jake says the goal of the scheme is for the com­mu­nity to have a stronger feel of own­er­ship of their beaches.

“We want cleaner coast­lines and the coun­cils get a closer idea of the pol­lu­tion on their beaches.”

■ For more in­for­ma­tion email ja­keecow­a­[email protected]

Par­tic­i­pat­ing in a beach clean up are (from left) Cathe­dral En­vi­ron­ment Jus­tice and Peace Net­work co­or­di­na­tor Jenny Baker, Seaweek re­gional co­or­di­na­tor for HB, Jake Brookie and Our Seas Our Fu­ture co­or­di­na­tor Jane Gar­diner.

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