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International Coastal Clean-up in Kiunga Marine Protected Area

 

Every year, on the third Saturday in September, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds come together across the globe to help clean rubbish from our coastal shoreline and waterways. In Kiunga Marine Protected Area we’ve been playing out part to contribute to this global cleaning effort.

Spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy, the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) , held this year on the 17th September, is the most recognised clean-up event in the world with hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe coming together to participate each year.

As well as actively reducing the amount of rubbish littering our coastlines, the ICC provides a great opportunity to raise public awareness about waste management practices and encourage local communities to change their behaviour which results in pollution of the environment. Important data is also collected and then recorded as part of the international ocean trash index, which helps to inform management decisions about marine environments.

Young girls from Ndau Primary School pose for a photo with their teacher after participating in the clean-up on Ndau beach © WWF-Kenya/Sabina OderoYoung girls from Ndau Primary School pose for a photo with their teacher after participating in the clean-up on Ndau beach © WWF-Kenya/Sabina Odero

This year we contributed to the ICC by coordinating clean-up activities in Kiunga Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Lamu. As you will know from my earlier blogs, the beaches in Kiunga MPA are important marine turtle nesting locations so litter here is a big problem. Rubbish that’s discarded on the beaches reduces the area in which adult turtles can lay their eggs and may stop turtle hatchlings reaching the ocean as they’re so tiny they can easily become entangled in the rubbish.

And it’s not just marine turtles that suffer. There’s a health risk for people too, as well as a risk to livelihoods. Beaches covered in litter lose their aesthetic value which can make them less appealing to tourists and negatively impact local community members trying to make a living through ecotourism initiatives. Fisher folk struggle too. Many are working towards Marine Stewardship Council certification (a standard for recognising sustainable fishing practices) of their fisheries, but the cleanness of beaches at landing sites is one of the criteria that’s assessed as part of the certification. Dirty beaches as a result of littering make achieving certification even harder.

Encouragingly, there was an enormous community effort behind ICC activities in Lamu seascape. With the help of more than 300 local community members and Kenya Wildlife Service, we cleaned nearly 9kms of coastline, covering five different beaches, and collected more than 1,800kg of litter. More than 250 of the community volunteers taking part in the cleaning efforts were children from local primary and secondary schools and it was fantastic to see such enthusiasm from tomorrow’s decision makers – although some of the younger children were pretty exhausted by the end of the day! Turtle conservation group members, fisher folk and local women’s groups all also joined in the effort, knowing that everyone benefits from having cleaner beaches.

Hassan Mohamed weighing marine litter collected on Kiwayu beach © WWF-Kenya/Yvonne MukamiHassan Mohamed weighing marine litter collected on Kiwayu beach © WWF-Kenya/Yvonne Mukami

In addition to reducing the amount of rubbish found on the beaches in Lamu seascape, we used the ICC as an opportunity to raise awareness of our work and the threats to the marine environment by running education sessions in schools and at village gatherings. Hopefully with this knowledge the local community will make every day a coastal clean-up day!

WWF’s work in Lamu Seascape is part of WWF’s Coastal Kenya Programme, which is gratefully supported by players of People’s Postcode LotterySize of Wales and the UK Government through the Department for International Development.

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