Friday, September 24, 2010
Back in the early summer months of 2007 Martin Dudley, a local environmentalist, contacted me about the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day. He told me that although there was an island representative, they were too busy to be involved that year. Together we organized several groups and tried to drum up media attention locally about it. We eventually received some help from the government to collect the huge mass of garbage that we collected. You can see some photos and read about our effort that year here, and here, and on the sunday here.
Many people around the island called me up trying to find out how they could be involved. I didn't set out to be a coordinator but it sort of turned out that way.
In 2008 the day clashed with a big fishing tournament here and we decided to go to a few out of the way beaches on my smaller boat. The weather wasn't good but we still managed to get quite a few people joining us. Read more on that here 2008.
In 2009 we decided to market it as a free day of boating and helping the environment. I promoted it a bit in the media as well as on my blogs. Here is an example of that: 2009 promo.
We had a huge response and it seemed that other groups were now getting involved. Sandals and some of the other hotels were doing their own things too. Little groups of families were cleaning beaches all around the island. The word was getting out. We took our Eco Tour boat as I had a feeling the deserted beaches we would go to would be filled with garbage. The volunteers came with bags and in the end we didn't even have enough. As you can see from this blog (please check it out), we collected a scary amount of garbage. The management of Jolly Harbour was kind enough to receive the trash in their skips.
This year the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association finally decided to get involved and there has been quite a bit in the news and on the net. Check this video out:
I am so glad that this has now taken off here in Antigua. It's been about time. Of course many people will say that showing interest for the well being of our beaches comes a bit late from the Tourism Ministry and the AHTA, and while I agree, I think that it's never too late. There is plenty more they should be caring about when it comes to our beaches and I can only hope and urge them to become more involved in other similar issues which i frequently raise on my blogs. In fact, just looking at the blog post i last mentioned above and coming up with a strategy to stop all the trash pouring into the sea out of St. Johns would be a great step in the right direction from here. Anyway, I will try not to stray too far from International Coastal Cleanup 2010.
I currently have two of my boats out of commission getting major refurbishments done and Xtreme is taking up the slack and working most days. In fact, tomorrow she will be doing a round the island tour (with extra trash bags). Tomorrow is also the Francis Nunes Memorial Fishing Tournament and I will be joining my Dad in the tournament. He's just come back from heart surgery and I'm happy to be fishing with him and not against him this time.
Adventure Antigua will plan a proper beach cleanup once again in our traditional manner as soon as the Eco boat comes back from it's refit. That should be sometime in October, so if you are interested in being part of that one please contact me.