Marine Park exec alarmed by uptick in plastic use

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Executive director of the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, Hugh Shim is calling on the authorities to enforce the ban on single-use plastics, especially the clear ones.

There appears, he said, to be an uptick in the use of those items.

“I notice everybody using them again and there was a ban on single-use plastics,” Shim told the Jamaica Observer, stressing that transparent plastic bags pose a significant threat to marine life.

“Because it’s clear, the fish swim in them and the turtles sometimes eat them because they think it’s jellyfish. The fish can get poisoned or suffocated by some of the things that end up in the water like the plastic bags, the bottle caps, things like that the fish ingest,” Shim said.

In observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, he and his team will be removing plastic and other waste from sections of the sea floor and shoreline. However, he wants to see a long-term solution.

“We need to find out what the source is and why it is coming out so often. It’s all over the place because persons just throw them away,” he pointed out.

Shim, meanwhile, is concerned about what he sees as a general lack of interest, in the wider society, in caring for the environment. He noted that, despite work done by his and other organisations to educate the public, some individuals still do not see the importance of the environment.

He said they have stepped up their efforts and remains hopeful that things will change at some point.

“We have more faith in the children that are coming up, but some of the adults are spoiled already. I still see people throwing garbage out of their car window, throwing it on the street and in the gullies,” he pointed out.

The results of their actions, he noted, is obvious.

“You just have to watch the gully any time rain falls and you will see the results and you will see it on the beaches, especially when you come to the clean-up days. It’s amazing how much garbage people take up in two hours,” he stated.

“We are hurting ourselves because when we poison the fish, we are poisoning ourselves because we eat it,” Shim added.

He is urging Jamaicans to change how they dispose of their waste in order to protect not only marine life but also their own health.

“The message is the same — recycle, refuse, reuse and take care of your solid waste. Certain things you don’t have to throw away, you can use them again or repurpose as best. Like in the olden days, people used to fix things,” he appealed.