12 August 2014

Zambales sees bigger turnout for 2014 coastal cleanup drive

Stakeholders in Zambales and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone have pledged their full support to the upcoming International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), vowing an even bigger turnout of volunteers to help save the marine environment and ensure resource sustainability for the future.

During the ICC project launch here at the Ayala Harbor Point on Friday, officials of private organizations and government units in the province said they will come up with at least 30,000 participants in the coastal cleanup to be held on September 20.

The ICC-Zambales group came up with 27,000 participants in the 2013 cleanup, the second biggest number of volunteers in the whole country last year. The Philippines itself, with a total of 182,408 volunteers, also had the second biggest number of participants among all the countries that joined the ICC last year.

Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, who represented the Zambales provincial government, said that at least 14,000 volunteers from the 11 coastal towns and even the two landlocked municipalities of Zambales will join next month’s cleanup project.

Councilor Jong Cortez of Olongapo City, meanwhile, promised the full participation of city government employees, as well as at least 10,000 volunteers from the 17 barangays in the city.

The rest of the target participants are expected to come from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and schools and companies in both Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Freeport.

Zedrik Avecilla, ICC area coordinator for Zambales, said the local cleanup project has astronomically grown from 30 volunteer-employees from The Lighthouse Marina Resort in the free port, to 800 volunteers in 2009, 2,000 participants in 2010, 4,000 in 2011, 14,000 in 2012, and 27,000 last year.

The ICC-Zambales group last year removed more than 67,000 kilograms of debris from 47 cleanup sites in Subic Bay, Olongapo and Zambales, Avecilla added.

The ICC, an annual project of the non-profit organization Ocean Conservancy, has become one of the largest volunteer efforts for ocean preservation worldwide.

Aiming for science-based solutions to the problem of ocean trash, the group’s ICC project involves the collection, segregation, data-card recording, weighing and hauling of trash from four types of cleanup: shoreline, waterway, using watercraft and underwater.

The data collected in the ICC is used to educate people and create solutions to the problems of solid waste and litter.

Last year ICC volunteers from all over the Philippines found that the most common kind of trash in coastlines are food wrappers, followed by and paper bags, straws and stirrers, disposable diapers, plastic bottle caps, cigarette butts, plastic grocery bags, other plastic bags, plastic cups and plates and plastic lids.

In contrast, the top 10 debris items found all over the world were cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, straws and stirrers, plastic grocery bags, glass beverage bottles, other plastics bags, paper bags, and beverage cans.

Commodore Gerry Reyes of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, who attended the ICC project launch here, said that everyone has to participate in cleaning the environment because pollution is posing a deadly threat to mankind.

“The scariest indicator is the recent findings that fish larvae already contained plastics, and that birds have been ingesting bottle caps. This means that our food chain is already threatened,” Reyes said.

“I’ve been doing this (coastal cleanup) for 30 years, and I can say that it’s not futile because we’re here to tell the children that we have to do something for the Earth. This is our responsibility, and no one else’s,” Reyes added. (Henry EmpeƱo, BusinessMirror)

Volunteers scour the Subic Bay Freeport coastline for trash during the International Coastal Cleanup project in September 2013.