International Clean Up Day 2009

beach-clean-upDid you know that over 6 million tons of debris enter the oceans and sea each year causing harm to the underwater environment and wildlife? Over 80% of all marine debris is plastic – it’s estimated that 1 million plastic bags are used every single minute around the world. In Thailand alone, plastic bags make up 15% of all waste with a staggering 18,000 tons of used plastic bags being disposed of every day.

International Coastal Clean Up day (ICC) fell on the 19th September this year. The ICC started back in 1986 with 1800 volunteers; today it is the largest volunteer network worldwide. In 2008, 390,881 volunteers in 102 countries collected 3,090 tons of debris from shorelines around the planet. It is now supported by Project AWARE, the Thai Department for Marine Coastal Resources, Greenfins and a multitude of local and international organisations.

Pulling a Fishing Net out of the sandHere in Kantiang Bay, Ko Lanta, Scubafish, together with Baan Laanta Resort, Phra Nang Lanta Resort, Pimalai Resort, Same Same But Different Restaurant, Drunken Sailor’s Cafe, Why Not Bar, Win Jeang Surf Clothing Shop, The Narima Bungalow Resort and Eyes Lanta Resort, managed to recuit over 200 volunteers to muck-in and get dirty to help keep Kantiang Bay beautiful and plastic free.
With plastic accounting for over 80% of all marine debris, our focus this year aimed to specifically highlight the need to reduce plastic bags use. With Event Sponsors funding re-useable, non-plastic baggies for every volunteer to take home, we hope to provide a practical alternative – ‘Do Something Drastic – Say No to Plastic’.

With this in mind, a series of environmental and educational events were organised.
• Day 1: Klong Hin School: Environmental Activities and Educational Talks with 100 students from the school.
• Day 2: Ba Kantiang Bay: Beach Clean-Up and Village Clean-Up with over 200 local residents volunteering to help.
Out of respect for the local Muslim community, these events were postponed a week until the end of Ramadan and therefore took place on 24th & 26th September 2009. This year’s activities were a resounding success and three times more people than last year turned out to join in the community spirit.

Day 1 [24/09/09]: Ban Klong Hin School: Environmental Activities and Educational Presentations.
Scubafish and Narima Diving staff were very excited about spending a day back at school! Children ranging from 4-11 years were divided into 4 teams for the days activities: Pla Tao (Turtle), Pla Shallam (Shark), Pla Mook Jak (Octopus) and Pla Hoi Kong (Nautilus).
Four environmental and educational stations were set up in Ban Klong Hin School for each group to visit, with the aim of demonstrating human impact on the environment and providing the kids with responsible rubbish disposal strategies to help reduce their impact.

Station 1 ‘Trash Timeline’: A rope time-line was set up to represent the amount of time it takes for rubbish to breakdown. Markers were placed from 2 – 1000+ years and each group had to walk along the rope and place common items of rubbish, found around the Kantiang area, at the point on the timeline they thought it would be broken down. Greenfins posters were then distributed and the group then rearranged the articles into the appropriate time bracket, and identified which of the items could be recycled, here on Ko Lanta.

Station 2: ‘Living Reef’: A video presentation in Thai that included excerpts from the Project AWARE Living Reef video, the IOSEA (Indian Ocean South East Asia) Turtle Memorandum video and local underwater footage from some of the dive sites in the Lanta National Marine Park, aimed to demonstrate global coral reef environmental issues, Sea Turtle Conservation specific to our local species and responsible fishing techniques that can be adopted to help sea turtles and other marine creatures – all practises that can be easily adopted by local communities to reduce the impact of humans on our marine environment.

Station 3: ‘Plastic Perils’: We adapted a Greenfins presentation about Plastic Bags to be more accessible and fun for the children, and to be more Thailand specific, encouraging the kids to think about practical ways they could reduce their own impact on the tragic trash problem.

Station 4: ‘Sea Scenes’: Each child drew their favourite underwater creatures and reefscapes. Their amazing creations were later mounted on a seascape board and placed on display for the beach clean up.

To fuel the day’s events, Pimalai and Phra Nang Lanta Resorts generously provided a yummy lunch and ice cream for all 100 students. In the afternoon, The Octopossible Band from Why Not Bar entertained one and all, performing an adaptation of a popular song (Yar Ting Kaya) used as a TV campaign in Thailand around 10 yrs ago, concerning river pollution in Bangkok. The lyrics were altered to relate to Ko Lanta, mention the sea, the fishermen and appeal more to children by mentioning arriving home from school! All the students soon joined in… “Ar ar ar – yar ting kaya, Tar wi sed hen na, Ting ka ya hai pen tee pen tang” (“No No No – Don’t throw your rubbish on the ground, Magic eyes can see what you do, Throw the rubbish in the right place, please.”)
Even a small change in thinking by the next generation, can make a huge, long term difference and disseminating this information to the kids is of vital importance and is, as we say, ‘Sanuk Maak’ (very fun!).

Day 2 [26/09/09]: Kantiang Beach & Village Clean-Up.
In partnership with Project AWARE, Pimalai Resort & Spa and Same Same But Different Restaurant, Scubafish recruited 206 volunteers to collect debris and rubbish from the beach and Kantiang Village. All equipment (gloves, bags, water, ice coffee, rubbish trucks) was provided along with a video briefing on safety and collection guidelines. Three separate groups of volunteers were assigned different areas to clear, including the river, the beach and the main village street. The debris was collected and information was catalogued and recorded, (e.g. drink cans, smoking-related activities, clothing, plastics etc.) to help identify the general sources of marine and coastal debris. All trash was then weighed on the Scubafish, home-made, balance scale, which became somewhat of a live show creating much intrigue, amusement and participation by the children. The scales were constructed from articles from around the dive shop, and compared the weight of each bin bag of collected debris to standard lead dive weights. The work was hard, hot and dirty but astoundingly 3,528 kgs of rubbish was collected in under an hour and a half!

Results showed that, around the Kantiang Bay area, shoreline & recreational activities accounted for almost 400 cigarette butts, 720 plastic bags, 382 glass bottles, 314 beverage cans, more than 700 straws and stirrers, almost 1,000 caps and lids, more than 300 food wrappers & containers, and unpleasantly, over a hundred diapers! Rubbish left through ocean & waterway activities included almost 50 fishing nets, over 1,000 different pieces of rope, and more than 20 light bulbs/tubes.

Scubafish and Narima Diving are proud members of Greenfins Thailand, who are joint Thailand coordinators of this event, along with the DMCR (Department of Marine and Coastal Resources). It will be their responsibility to collate all the ICC data from clean-ups like these around the country for both the Ocean Conservancy and Thai government departments.

Scubafish and Narima Diving would like to say a huge thank you to the following organisations for their generous contributions and time in sponsoring this event:

Pimalai Resort & Spa, Same Same But Different, Baan Laanta Resort, Phra Nang Lanta Resort, The Narima Bungalow Resort, Eyes Lanta Lifestyle Resort, Drunken Sailor’s Cafe, Why Not Bar, and Win Jeang Surf Clothing Shop.

We would also like to thank the following organisations for their support of this event: Ko Lanta Yai District Office, Klong Hin School, Kantiang Bay View Resort, Aqua Bar, Lanta Marine Park View Resort, Shroom Bar, 9 Art Gallery, Simply Life and Drunken Tailors.

SCUBAFISH is a small, eco-friendly, PADI 5 Star, Gold Palm, IDC Centre located on Kantiang Beach in the South of Ko Lanta, Thailand. Offering expert guidance and instruction with an emphasis on relaxed and personal service both above & below the water, we are ideally located to offer some of the shortest journey times to Lanta’s top diving destinations.

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