Trash in the sea means damage to Curaçao’s reefs
WILLEMSTAD - Researchers from the Waitt Institute and Carmabi recently completed a study to evaluate the health of Curaçao’s marine environment. The assessment included underwater surveys of coral reefs in 148 distinct locations around the island.
Scientists found that trash is abundant along most of Curaçao’s south coast. However, there are two hotspots for marine debris: Bullenbaai and Westpunt. Most trash on the reef is a product of pollution from fishing vessels, other boats and litter from land. Examples of trash include abandoned or lost fishing nets as well as plastic consumer goods including plastic bags, knives and forks.
Trash in the ocean is more than an eyesore. Waitt Institute’s science and field manager, Andy Estep, points out, “Trash is a threat to marine life. It can cause unsustainable bycatch, physical damage to corals, and be consumed by marine life including fish, birds and sea turtles causing illness and death.” Trash also can smother coral, facilitate the introduction of invasive species, and introduce toxins into the marine environment.
Curaçao has a long history of pollution, both in the sea and on land. The good news: Everyone can work towards a cleaner and healthier environment for Curaçao. “We can all play our part by changing our behavior, participating in coastal clean ups, and reducing our use of disposable materials” says Gisette Seferina, Blue Halo Curaçao Site Manager. She adds “If you see trash on the beach, you can also report it using the TrashOut App.”
The next opportunity to help is around the corner. On Saturday September 24th, the Curaçao Clean Up Foundation will organize its 4th annual nationwide clean up initiative. More than 2,500 volunteers have already signed up for the event, but organizers are still looking for helping hands for cleanups in Otrobanda, Ronde Klip, Bapor Kibra, St. Joris, and Caracasbaai. Volunteers can sign up on www.curacaocleanup.com.