These volunteers try to separate garbage along the shoreline during a coastal clean-up at the Carenage Fishing Centre on Friday.

Some 1,399 pounds of garbage were collected during coastal clean-up efforts at the Carenage Fishing Centre over the weekend.

In a press release, the European Union said they conducted the exercise in collaboration the Ministry of Planning and Development and National Trust. The event was part of the international coastal clean-up, which has highlighted threats posed by coastal and marine pollution to countries around the world and to the planet itself.

Speaking about the initiative, acting head of the EU Delegation Sanjin Soldatic said, “We have all seen images or read the worrying reports: plastic rubbish is piling up in our oceans and littering our beaches. Animals get caught in ghost nets and microplastics enter our food chain. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Whilst the key to fighting marine litter is to stop it at the source – using less, recycling more – cleaning matters as well. Together, we can turn a drop in the ocean into a wave of change.”

The United Nations has designated “Life Below Water” as Goal 14 of its #Envision2030 plan. This requires all stakeholders to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

The Ministry of Planning meanwhile said this goal is also an integral part of T&T’s own Vision 2030 programme, in keeping with Theme V of the National Development Strategy – “Placing the Environment at the Centre of Economic and Social Development.”

Acting Planning Minister Allyson West said, “Our ocean and marine resources are an integral part of our continued diversification of the economy.

“This impacts not only our fishing industry but also our tourism development, whether we’re talking about yachting or sports fishing or cruise ships. The Government is committed to ensuring that we protect the environment, since this helps preserve our future.”

Director of the Environmental Policy Planning Division, Dr David Persaud, added that marine pollution was having devastating impacts on the coastal and marine environment.

“Most people would be aware of the garbage patch floating in the Pacific Ocean,” Persaud said.

“The impacts of marine pollution can be easily resolved if individuals take personal responsibility to curtail indiscriminate dumping of waste which eventually ends up in coastal and marine environments. Simply disposing of waste in an environmentally sound manner and recycling and re-using materials will go a long way in addressing marine pollution.”

The National Trust has long worked with the fishing community at Carenage and shares the facility to access the Nelson Island Heritage Site. Trust chairman Margaret McDowall said although focus is on tangible heritage buildings and monuments, they must exist in harmony with the natural environment.

“Both must be protected and preserved, so we are especially pleased to work in collaboration with our neighbouring communities to preserve shared spaces like this shoreline and ensure we are leaving a positive legacy for future generations to come,” McDowall said.