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Bonaire is the first island in the Caribbean conducting regularly scheduled, scientific marine litter monitoring on a number of beaches using the OSPAR methodology.

The purpose of this marine litter program is to be able to demonstrate through research that there is a need to take concrete measures to combat marine litter washing ashore on Bonaire. The only way to achieve this goal is to bring the worrying research figures regarding litter on Bonaire to the attention of the local and national government.

Clean Coast Bonaire now has one year of data.

Clean Coast Bonaire (CCB) is a citizen science program that started a year ago to collect data regarding marine litter washing ashore on the coastline of Bonaire. The project is a joint initiative of Boneiru Duradero and the World Wildlife Fund (WNF). During the celebration of the 1-year anniversary of CCB, volunteers removed 1,530 items on Te Amo Beach over a distance of 50 meters, including 815 cigarette butts. Te Amo is a popular beach and is used by tourists and locals for recreation. At the same time, this beach is an important nesting site for sea turtles.

Cigarette butts collected by Clean Coast Bonaire.
Plastics wash ashore on Bonaire's east coast.

Over 50,000 items of marine litter collected in the first year.

CCB coordinator Carolyn Caporusso reports after one year that a total of 50,178 items have been inventoried at three different coastal locations. Two of these locations are on the windward coast of the island, Boka Onima to the northeast and Piedra Pretu to the southeast.

“A location on the west coast was specifically added to the survey to make a comparison between the type of waste that was washed up and the waste left by beach users of Te Amo Beach,” said Carolyn Caporusso.

The research program is made possible thanks to the efforts of citizen scientists on Bonaire. Research was carried out five times at each of the research sites. On Boka Onima and Piedra Pretu, over 90% of the marine litter found consists of plastic and Styrofoam. More than 5,000 cigarette filters were collected and counted at Te Amo Beach. Cigarette filters are made of plastic and therefore pose a threat to the marine environment.

OSPAR Marine Litter Monitoring is used for the data.

Clean Coast Bonaire uses the OSPAR Marine Litter Monitoring method, so that the collected waste is counted and categorized. In addition, an attempt is made to find out the origin of the washed-up waste. On average, 313 items per 100 meters are found on European Dutch beaches. To compare Bonaire to that statistic is alarming: The fact that at least 1,400 items and at most 7,400 items are found at the monitoring sites on Bonaire is a cause for concern.

Conclusions can be drawn from CCB’s research results, which should lead to measures and government policy in the fight against plastic waste on Bonaire and in the region. OSPAR research in Europe has led to a ban within the EU on ten specific plastic disposable products.

Volunteers are always welcome at the clean-up surveys on the second Saturday of each month, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM.  View the Bonaire Calendar of Events to see if there is a cleanup while you are visiting Bonaire.

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(Source:  Clean Coast 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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