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Information provided by: The Department of Environmental Affairs

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Ms Barbara Thomson, MP, led the International Coastal Clean-Up (ICCD) on 19 September 2015, at the Eastern Beach, East London. The clean-up activity formed part of the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day which was initiated by the Ocean Conservancy and has grown from humble beginnings in 1986, to today, where more than 100 countries participate in cleaning their coastal areas.

Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Ms. Barbara Thomson (left) with Director General of Environmental Affairs Ms. Nosipho Ngcaba © Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti
Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Ms. Barbara Thomson (left) with Director General of Environmental Affairs Ms. Nosipho Ngcaba © Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti

The Department of Environmental Affairs ICCD theme is communities creating waves of change.  Annually the event is used as a platform to address issues concerning coastal pollution as well as to encourage a change in behavioural patterns that negatively affect the marine environment.

South Africa has been participating in the ICCD event for 19 years and information on the litter and debris removed from the beaches has being forwarded to the Ocean Conservancy to form part of the global beach litter database (Ocean Trash Index) annually. This information assists in finding solutions on litter management from land-based sources as well as from offshore sources.

cleaning-beaches
© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti

Delivering the key note address Deputy Minister Ms. Barbara Thomson, expressed her gratitude to the community which took part in the clean-up. “This morning, I was pleased to participate in the worlds biggest coastal clean-up event, the 2015 International Coastal Clean-up Day, with you. It is reassuring to observe how each year the number of people taking part in the annual clean-up is growing. The International Coastal Clean-up Day once again reminds us of the importance of our beautiful and valuable coastal and marine environment, and the need to take care of it,” she said.

© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti
© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti

The beach clean-up covered around 2.5km of the Eastern Beach and this year the clean-up was not only focused on one beach location but on several areas, some of which are further away from the coast. The areas included the surrounds of the Orient Theatre, Quigney, and Ebuhlanti.

© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti
© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti

“The significance of the International Coastal Clean-up campaign is that it not only promotes awareness of the litter problem, but also draws our attention to the need for better waste management on land. Waste is everybody’s problem, from communities that generate domestic waste to the private sector generating industrial waste. I would like to strongly encourage the plastics, metals and glass industries to continue their voluntary efforts to increase their recycling rates. Furthermore, we need to encourage all South Africans to become concerned about recycling and make the effort to buy material produced from recycled material,” said the Deputy Minister.

© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti
© Paul Sigutya and Tshego Letshwiti

Last year at the coastal clean-up event in KwaZulu-Natal, 1,400 volunteers picked up 1,877kg (almost 1.9 tons) of waste in just one hour. At this year’s event approximately 1,000 volunteers in just one hour collected around 1,395 cigarette butts, 718 plastic bags, 1,004 bottle caps, 588 food wrappers and 564 plastic beverage bottles. These were identified as some of the most common type of litter found along the coast.

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