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Commonwealth Litter Program aims to curb Marine Litter

The Department of the Environment, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, CIFA, is hosting a four-day workshop, focusing on addressing plastic pollution. The workshop is being held to develop a marine litter and waste management action plan. In speaking with Maxine Monsanto, the Environmental Officer of the Department of the Environment, this action plan will complement ongoing activities that the Government of Belize is doing to reduce single-use plastic.

Maxine Monsanto, Environmental Officer, Department of the Environment

Maxine Monsanto, Environmental Officer, Department of the Environment: The end result of this collaboration is the development of a national marine litter and waste management action plan for Belize. What is happening in the next four days is that we have very targeted groups meeting, these are small groups, twenty or less- this group right now is ten persons, over the next four days each day addressing a specific pillar. Today is marine litter science, tomorrow is land-based sources of marine litter, Wednesday is sea-based sources of marine litter and Thursday is outreach and education. Basically what’s happening is they’re getting a presentation of what research findings have been done over the last two months, they are going to identify the different challenges that need to be addressed for reducing marine litter, and then they’re going to come up with practical, realistic, implementable actions of what they feel the country needs and what can actually be accomplished to move forward in the development of an action plan. The outcome of these four days is the development of policy papers which would be submitted to senior managers and decision makers at the national consultation next week and from that we will develop an action plan which will then go on to the Government of Belize for endorsement.”

Love News also spoke with Umberto Binetti, the Marine Scientist from CIFA, who is the facilitator of the workshop, he said that marine litter is harmful economically and environmentally.

Umberto Binetti, Marine Scientist, CIFA

Umberto Binetti, Marine Scientist, CIFA: “It’s harmful economically because it’s impacting the tourism, it’s impacting fisheries, it’s impacting human health, it’s also very bad from an environmental point of view because it’s polluting a lot of areas and impacting the ecological systems and disrupting the equilibrium. We are assessing the importance of science and collecting scientific data to understand what the situation is and how the situation is evolving. In the next three days there will be other workshops that are targeting the sources of the litter, from land, from the sea and the last one is about outreach and education. So our idea is that collecting data and ,speaking with the stakeholders on how to identify the sources and how to tackle the sources and then going with outreach to the schools to the general public to speak about what are the best habits, littering and using nonrecyclable materials and how changing those habits can have a big impact on marine litter. So this is the major goal of the four workshops.”

The project is a part of the Commonwealth Litter Program.