Whether you are in Fiji, Brazil, Australia, Seychelles, Costa Rica, every time you go to a non tourist beach you will encounter with a sad truth, marine debris from all over the world is taking over the beaches.
The Ocean Conservancy organizes an annual Beach Cleanup Day; in 2010 they celebrated the 25th anniversary of this campaign and they had 615,407 volunteers cleaning the beaches all over the world. They collected more than 8 million pounds of trash and other debris—enough to cover about 170 football fields.
According to the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) marine debris is any manufactured or processed solid waste material (typically inert) that enters the marine environment from any source.
Mahahual, a small village in the Coast of the Mexican Caribbean is not the exception to this. Marine currents from all over the world bring a lot of marine debris to these beautiful beaches. In Mexico we have worked in the area for over 6 years participating with weekly beach cleans where it has been observed that between 60 and 70% of the debris is plastic.
To continue getting hands on the problem, a massive beach cleanup was organized by Sustenta (Mexican organization that promotes sustainable development and green technologies) and other organizations. This beach clean is done on the International beach cleanup day organized by the Ocean Conservancy; however this year was done on a different date. GVI Mexico has been working closely with Sustenta for three years in raising funds for a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic bottles. The goal was to buy water filters and give them out to families in Mahahual, that way they would get drinkable water reducing the amount of bottles they had to buy.
In two years more than 2500usd were raised to buy the filters and they were given out to the families that collected the most plastic in the beach clean and during a campaign that Sustenta launched to collect plastic bottles from town.
On February 25th 350 participants, including members of the community and all the organizations involved collected a total of 1547.5kg of plastic bottles. They also removed 4888kg of marine debris from the beaches in the area. This happened astonishingly in only a couple of hours.
Marine debris also comes from the land, therefore campaigns like this one where the goal is to reduce the amount of plastic used are really important.
We would like to share the most recent trustee report from the GVI Charitable Trust. This report covers the six month period from July to December 2011.
We are delighted to share that this has been by far our most successful period, raising in six months nearly as much as we did the whole of the previous year. This increase in funding has brought a corresponding increase in the impact we have been able to create on our programs around the world.
During this period we have invested in sustainable education across Latin America including support for the elderly in Guatemala and income generation schemes to support education in Honduras and Ecuador. In Mexico we have worked with a community to establish a recycling centre and in Kenya our partners in Mombasa will now realise their goal of seeing impoverished students through to completion of the primary education earning recognised qualifications for the first time.
These are just a few highlights of an amazing, productive and rewarding six months. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and played a crucial role in these achievements.
Our local partner, Amigos de Sian Ka’an, have worked extensively within the protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve on Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.
To date they have completed two major campaigns to characterize the reef, the first was completed in the 90’s and the second in 2010. In addition, in collaboration with GVI, we run an ongoing, permanent coral reef and fish species monitoring program.
Moving forwards preparations are underway for a new mapping project of the marine ecosystem within the reserve. This will act as a tool in which we will create an inventory of the different types of habitat and identify areas which are more susceptible to act as biodiversity hot spots.
Currently the team are involved in a pilot survey with the aim of improving the methodology before the official survey which is due to begin within the next couple of months.
Data collected from this critical work is used to help govern the management and protection of important biodiversity hotspots like the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.
Along with the fishing cooperatives working in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and COBI, Amigos de Sian Ka’an is protecting over 9,000has through the establishment of community no-take zones. Moving forwards we aim to include Open Water Diver and Coral Reef Monitoring training for local fishermen, so they can get involved in monitoring the progress of the delimited areas.
Moreover, in the following months Amigos de Sian Ka’an and GVI will be launching a mid-term conservation project to characterize and monitor coastal habitats associated to shallow coral reefs in northern Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and Punta Gruesa, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Thank you so much for all of the support which is helping us to continue conserving Marine ecosystems.
We have been working closely with our local partner on the ground in Mexico, award winning Amigos de Sian Kaan. As we maintain work on current projects we are looking to develop new initiatives such as Acroporas characterization using state of the art remote perception tools and running photo transects to understand the distribution of coral reef species.
In addition we are continuing to promote sustainable development in these marine environments. We recently held a further three workshops in Puna Herrero, Maria Elena and Punta Allen. During the workshops we worked alongside local fisherman in order to establish ‘no take zones’ to help preserve endangered marine species.
Work on the project continues as always, many thanks for your support.
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