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Sep 5, 2019

Regional Stakeholder Meet to Discuss Solutions to Increased Marine Litter

The amount of plastic products that end up in our waters is staggering. Plastic, whether in the form of bags, bottles, caps or utensils cause severe pollution to the ocean. A high-level dialogue on Marine Litter and Waste Management in the Wider Caribbean Region is taking place in Belize to address this problem. Stakeholders acknowledge that changing the mindset of the population is a step in finding a solution to the problem of ocean plastic. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo reporting

Belize like many Small Island Developing States has a vulnerable economy that depends largely on tourism and fisheries. Tourism alone accounts for approximately forty percent of GDP. The country is faced with increased plastic pollution which ultimately affects the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Belizeans. Annually, approximately sixteen million Styrofoam pieces and fifty million plastic single use disposable products are produced. Eight million pieces of plastic find its way to the ocean every day. Twenty percent of that are plastic bottles, plastic bags account for seventy percent while utensils and caps account for the remaining percentage.

 

Omar Figueroa, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development

Omar Figueroa

“In Belize tourism is one of the important foreign exchange earners in our country and it does not help when you are promoting a pristine destination and you go to a remote island and you see plastic litter. When you are dealing with marine litter, a lot of these plastics that you see out there are not necessarily coming from Belize. It is coming from other countries. Hence the importance of having these types of regional initiatives that we can come together and try to tackle  marine litter as a region.”

 

A collective initiative by regional stakeholders with the crucial support of the Government of United Kingdom through the Commonwealth Litter Programme has commenced in addressing this debilitating problem. A High-level Dialogue on Marine Litter and Waste

 

Management in the Wider Caribbean Region was held today in Belize City.

 

Stuart Rogers

Stuart Rogers, Chief Scientist, CEFAS

“We’re part of a large international litter programme which started last year in the South Pacific and now we are in Belize. We are delivering regional action plans for different parts of the Commonwealth to deal with the problem of marine litter. Litter is a global issue and it threatened all countries. We recognize that to address the problems of marine waste, plastic contamination is a team effort. It requires everybody, community, politicians, scientists, to work as best as they can to find solution to the problem.”

 

 

One of the foreseeable challenges in finding a solution is changing the mindset of the public.

 

Nikola Simpson, Head of Exploration, UNDP Blue Lab

Nikola Simpson

“That is a key factor. You can have the policy and legislation but you have to change mindsets. It starts with you and it starts with me. Every little bit counts. So if you can start by skipping the straw, carrying a reusable bottle, those are actions that everyone in this room and everyone listening can do to have a positive impact.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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