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Clean Coast Bonaire is a new initiative for a waste-free coast on Bonaire.

The Clean Coast Bonaire project is a new initiative in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature in the Netherlands (WWF-NL) and Boneiru Duradero.  This past August, the program was kicked off with the training of local volunteers who will help monitor Bonaire’s beaches for marine litter. The research is being conducted following a professional monitoring protocol which is used by authorities in Europe in order to identify the amount, constitution and sources of marine litter. The ultimate aim: a (plastic) waste-free coast on Bonaire. Clean Coast Bonaire is a citizen science program, with the aim to involve inhabitants of Bonaire who are willing to collect marine litter and record scientific data at the same time.

OSPAR Beach Litter Monitoring Guidelines

This special monitoring protocol is based on the OSPAR Beach Litter Monitoring guidelines, which has been used in Europe for over a decade and establishes a good knowledge base about marine litter. The beach litter data, collected by countries such as The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Portugal has contributed to the new Plastics Strategy of the European Union (EU), banning 10 single-use plastic items, such as plastic cutlery and straws. More importantly, the EU demands plastic producers to take responsibility and pay for waste management and cleanup efforts.

Preparing a protocol just for Bonaire’s special circumstances.

Experienced marine litter surveyor Merijn Hougee from WWF-NL visited Bonaire in August to provide the training for conducting beach litter surveys and to tailor the OSPAR beach litter monitoring protocol for Bonaire’s local circumstances. The general method requires to demarcate a stretch of beach and then collect, count and catalog marine litter found in that particular area. This process of taking inventory of washed up waste is repeated four times a year per location. After analyzing data, the amounts, different types and sources of marine litter, as well as trends, can be established.  Based on the detailed and high-quality data, a program of measures for a plastic waste-free Bonaire can be developed in collaboration with the people of Bonaire, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and authorities.

Three locations were chosen for this project–Boka Onima, Piedra Pretu, and Te Amo Beach.

Both Boka Onima and Piedra Pretu are located on Bonaire’s windward side and thus they are subject to the plastic trash that floats in the world’s oceans and washes ashore.  Te Amo Beach is located on Bonaire’s leeward coastline, and it is a popular beach for locals and visitors.  This beach was chosen as a sample location as well, but not for washed-in plastic since it is not subject to the same currents as the two windward locations.  Instead, Te Amo Beach will provide valuable data regarding the trash that might be left behind by the users of the beach.

Results from Boka Onima

The initial cleanup at Boka Onima occurred on August 31st.  12 of the newly trained volunteers removed an impressive 3,195 items of trash!

Results from Piedra Pretu

On September 1st, 19 volunteers conducted the first cleaning at Piedra Pretu.  These 19 persons removed a whopping 5,159 items of trash.

Windward trash statistics

From just these two initial cleanups on Bonaire’s windy coastline, a staggering 8,354 items of marine litter were removed from Bonaire’s coast. The overwhelming majority of items were plastic with 44% being plastic/polystyrene pieces under 2.5 cm. Plastic caps and lids were the next most commonly found item at 18% of the total.  After that, plastic/polystyrene pieces between 2.5cm and 50cm made up 17%.

Results from Te Amo Beach

On September 15th, Te Amo Beach was cleaned and surveyed in collaboration with Bonaire Cleanup Day. Although “Te Amo” means “I love you” in Papiamentu, it appears the users of this lovely beach are not showing the love.  In this first cleanup effort, 1,345 cigarette butts were removed from the beach, a staggering 56% of the marine litter items removed. Volunteers picked up a total of 2,424 items from Te Amo Beach.  After cigarette butts, the next most common items were metal bottle caps and plastic pieces.

Results from initial Clean Coast Bonaire cleanup at Te Amo Beach.

What is next for Clean Coast Bonaire?

The second set of cleanups of the three sample locations will begin this Saturday with another cleanup from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM at Boka Onima.  Every pair of hands is valued, so If you would like to help, just show up at Boka Onima or email to arrange a ride.  If you haven’t received training in the OSPAR protocol, don’t worry.  You will be paired up with a trained volunteer who can instruct you.

Monthly cleanups for the three locations have been set through the end of 2019.  View the Bonaire calendar of events to see if there is a clean up when you are visiting the island.

Take care of the shore, take care of our marine park!

Show a little love for Bonaire’s shoreline this weekend, but don’t forget the marine park as well!  Dive Friends Bonaire will be hosting their quarterly underwater cleanup next Saturday, October 19th, 2018!

(Source:  Clean Coast Bonaire, Dive Friends Bonaire)

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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, a certified bird guide, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 

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