Cleaning up our beautiful beaches of #MarineDebris

A Hawksbill turtle returns back to sea on Cousin Island photo by Emily Corden

A Hawksbill turtle returns back to sea on Cousin Island photo by Emily Corden

On 16th April 2016, Nature Seychelles will partner with SYAH-Seychelles (SIDS Youth AIMS Hub) in a beach clean-up on Cousin Island Special Reserve as part of the Marine Debris Challenge, an initiative of Australian based organisation, Positive Change for Marine Life Association.

Several organisations around the world will be taking part in the Marine Debris Challenge whose objective is to conduct clean-ups of the marine environment, which is littered with plastic waste, often referred to as the cancer of the earth because of the immense damage it does to the environment and wildlife.

SYAH-Seychelles, dubbed Team Seychelles in this challenge, will carry out clean-ups every fortnight, beginning on 12th March and leading up to Earth Day on 22nd April. The clean-ups will be done at Bel Ombre, Cap Ternay, Silhouette Island, Beau Vallon, Cousin Island and Praslin Island.

SYAH-Seychelles in a past clean up event

SYAH-Seychelles in a past clean up event

“The clean-ups will be undertaken by SYAH members, youth, members of the community and members of other local NGOs and organisations,” says Karine Rassool, Steering Committee member of SYAH-Seychelles “Each clean-up will be coupled with an educational talk in line with the Hub’s ethos of education, empowerment and action. The smaller clean-ups will feature waste separation and a waste audit.”

Nature Seychelles staff and international volunteers working on Cousin Island regularly collect marine debris including plastic bags, bottles, sandals, and other waste that washes up on the otherwise pristine beaches of this protected marine reserve and Important Bird Area. While on Cousin, SYAH-Seychelles will work with the wardens and volunteers on Cousin to carry out a more thorough clean-up.

SYAH-Seychelles, winner of Environment Sustainability Award 2015, has in the past carried out similar campaigns with the aim of raising awareness of the damage marine debris has on the environment while also encouraging Seychellois to take ownership of waste management in their communities. One such campaign is the ‘Seychelles Free From Plastic Bags’ which was launched in 2015, with the added goal of lobbying the Seychelles government to ban plastics in the country.

Many people prefer to use a free plastic bag rather than pay 20 rupees or more for these fabric bags at Jivan (made from waste material)

Many people prefer to use a free plastic bag rather than pay 20 rupees or more for these fabric bags at Jivan (made from waste material)

“Our experience has been that the knock-on effect of cleaning up is that one is less likely to litter; hence clean-ups act as a deterrent to littering,” says Zara Pardiwalla, Steering Committee member of SYAH-Seychelles. “However, SYAH-Seychelles wishes to address the greater issue of waste reduction as well as littering. SYAH-Seychelles aims to start the conversation about the need to take individual action to reduce consumption and increase recycling efforts and thereby reduce the amount of waste that ends up on our landfills and in our oceans.”

SYAH-Seychelles has been addressing the reduction of consumption within the context of the anti-plastic bags campaign by sourcing alternatives to plastic bags and encouraging youth and the general public to make the switch from plastic bags to reusable bags.

“Nature Seychelles is a pioneer in conservation in Seychelles and SYAH-Seychelles would benefit immensely from the wealth of knowledge that Nature Seychelles can provide to its members,” says Zara. “Similarly SYAH-Seychelles – being a youth-led NGO with the ability to mobilise large numbers of youths – provides the ideal avenue through which Nature Seychelles can include youth in its conservation efforts.”

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