The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day is celebrated in the country annually on the third Saturday of September, through Proclamation No. 470. ICC is a worldwide event, organized by the Ocean Conservancy which started in 1986.
It is a call to arms for communities, organizations, and individuals to join forces in the fight against ocean pollution. The event revolves around cleaning coastlines and waterways, as well as collecting data on the types and sources of marine debris.
Moreover, Mimaropa boasts some of the most breathtaking coastal landscapes in the Philippines. The region’s beaches and coral reefs are not only a source of income for local fishermen and the tourism industry but are also critical to the global ecosystem. However, this fragile ecosystem is under threat from plastic pollution, discarded fishing gear, and other debris.
This year, as with previous years, volunteers in the region joined in celebrating International Coastal Cleanup Day. The event was a resounding success, with local government units, schools, non-government organizations, and concerned citizens all pitched in to make a positive impact.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mimaropa led the activity, together with its provincial offices and other national agencies in order to ensure the success of the activity. With the accumulated effort of 11,790 volunteers from the region, the agency, together with other stakeholders gathered a total of 26 tons of marine litters or an equivalent of 3 dump trucks from 55 coastal areas in the region.
Volunteers flocked to their designated cleanup sites with a sense of purpose. Armed with gloves, trash bags, and determination, they scoured the beaches, mangroves, and coastal areas for litter. The items collected ranged from single-use plastics to abandoned fishing nets, all of which posed a significant threat to marine life.
Various projects and programs are being implemented by DENR to ensure that the cleaning of the coastal areas is not just a one-day event. Programs such as Adopt-a-Beach Programs ensure the involvement of local communities, schools, or businesses adopting specific beach or coastal areas. They commit to regularly cleaning and maintaining these areas to ensure their cleanliness and protection from pollution. Regular information drives to the youth are also observed to instill knowledge regarding the importance of a clean and safe environment. Furthermore, DENR and other relevant agencies work to enforce environmental laws and regulations related to coastal protection. This includes monitoring and penalizing illegal activities that harm coastal areas. (JJGS/PIA MIMAROPA)