On September 18th 2021, FRIENDS as well as many organizations around the world participated in International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day. ICC Day is one of the worlds largest collective efforts to clean up our environment. Our cleanup was held at Coconut Tree Bay in Murphy Town, Abaco. To sum up how it went, we created this infographic:
As you can see, the most common trash found was single-use items - bottles and beverage cans. Coconut Tree Bay is a frequented spot for locals to hang out, launch their boats, or clean conch. Evidently, it is also a spot with no trash bins for people to dispose their trash, thus leading it to be a highly polluted area. During the cleanup, it was obvious that most of the single-use items that we picked up had not been there long.
Our partners from IDEA Relief assisted us on ICC Day by simultaneously removing marine debris from the coastline as we cleaned up on land. IDEA has been essential in the marine debris removal process in Abaco following Hurricane Dorian, and assisted with a food program in the immediate months after the storm. They are truly an incredible organization and we are proud to be partners!
Coconut Tree Bay is one of the natural pond areas that intersects with the Sea of Abaco. Ten years ago, FRIENDS partnered with the Murphy Town Council, Ministry of Tourism, and National Coastal Awareness Committee to carry out a large cleanup effort of the pond because it was unfortunately being used as a dumpsite for everything from household trash to large appliances. We found fridges, stoves and more and hired heavy equipment to dispose of these items properly. At the time, local government was involved in creating a community park in this area. The area was once used as a fish fry and we wanted to beautify the pond and make it known that it should not be used as a dump. We also removed invasive Casuarina trees and planted native vegetation as part of that restoration.
This year's cleanup was made possible through funding from Coca Cola in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy. We received a grant for a "hotspot" cleanup in an area in Abaco that required a lot of attention, and chose Coconut Tree Bay for obvious reasons. Our goal is to do some follow-up cleanups in the upcoming months at this location. We are also in discussion to partner with local waste management companies to ensure there is a permanent trash bin at this site. We are thankful for waste management companies working toward proper disposal and sorting for a cleaner island, and for partners who make these cleanups possible!
We encourage everyone visiting this area to keep it clean! Take trash home with you if you don't see a bin, or bring a trash bag of your own when visiting and encourage your friends to join your cleanup. Every little bit helps!