Keeping marine life safe and beaches clean


(Posted 01st October 2014)

The Watamu Marine Association has appealed for more votes for their ‘Bins for Beaches’ project with which they hope to attract funding to finance a major beach cleanup and the installation of bins along the Watamu beaches.

Watamu is part of Kenya’s first National Marine Park and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is rich in marine life with five species of endangered sea turtle, three of them nesting on Watamu Beaches. The area hosts resident and migratory populations of whales, dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays. Prevailing ocean currents, local poor waste management and lack of disposal facilities result in considerable amounts of waste washing up on shore or being dumped in the area, presenting threats to marine life, especially sea turtles. 100 waste bins will be provided along 7km of beach. Trained community ‘Blue Teams’ will sort and recycle the waste and all hotels, schools and community groups will receive some form of litter/recycling education and take part in beach cleans, ultimately with all plastic waste from businesses and residents being recycled for onward sale which will sustain operations and provide the Blue Teams with an income

Voting ends on Sunday. We just got the latest results in and we will need much more than 1,000 votes as all the projects competing are doing well.

Says the WMA on their website in regards of the existing threats to marine life and their plans and intentions to mitigate those and remove in particular plastic waste from the beaches:

Vote Now for a Clean Watamu and the WMA Blues Recycling Team “Bins for Beaches- Kenya”

See our Watamu Marine Association Facebook Page for more infomation about us.

The threat – Non-biodegradable waste in the form of marine debris is polluting our Marine Park beaches and threatening vulnerable marine life
Plastic bags and materials are ingested by endangered sea turtles who mistake them for jellyfish which are part of their natural diet. The turtles eventually die due to internal problems and starvation due to the gut being blocked. Plastics are also ingested by cetaceans (dolphins and whales). Whales, dolphins and whale sharks can all be found in Watamu waters. Plastics smother corals and other marine creatures living on the sea bed, inhibiting them from breathing and feeding and resulting in loss of health or death. The impact of solid waste is deteriorating our local environment resulting in threats to human health and welfare and potentially discouraging tourists from visiting the area. The latter is a serious concern as many coastal communities depend on tourism as their primary source of income and employment.

The Solution -In 2009 Watamu Marine Association took action and set up a Community Solid Waste Management Project supported by IUCN Netherlands and African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya Ltd

Recycling machinery was purchased for crushing plastic waste and the Blue Team waste collectors and recyclers were formed, made up from impoverished members of local youth and women’s groups. The 25 Blue Team members carry out weekly beach cleanups and work to keep the village roadsides free of rubbish. They are mostly sponsored by local hotels and businesses which sustains their operations.

Taking Action –In Watamu we are making a difference by fighting back a tide of waste. Taking part in the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup Day in September 2014 we collected 3,124kg of marine debris from our beaches which are important sea turtle nesting areas.

Other Supporters
In 2014 with support from Friends from Ireland, the first phase of construction was completed at the new plastic and glass Recycling Centre. The Centre aims to recycle all plastic and glass waste produced by hotels and the general community in Watamu.

The Recycling Centre and the Future
The Centre is generating income from the sale of recyclables. Besides selling crushed plastic to the recycling industries, our local community artists are making art and crafts from flip flops and plastic waste and selling them to tourist outlets. This is a unique initiative at the coast and is intended to raise public awareness to the problems related to waste and pollution and to demonstrate the potential of community solutions to waste management problems.

We plan to develop the Centre as a demo site for small environmental technologies and best practices. This will include glass blowing, composting, permaculture, bio-fuel briquette making as an alternative to charcoal, bio-gas production from manure and tree nurseries. The site will be open to the public and as a tourist attraction and will also invite government and educational institutions to use it as a case study and centre for learning.

Recycling Partners in Kenya
WMA also work with Ocean Sole in Nairobi which takes discarded flip-flops and other marine flotsam and recycles these into products ranging from accessories and jewellery to one-off sculptures.
We will be also working with Kitengela Glass. For more information on this inspiring project of international repute please see Eco Tower Watamu – Nani Croze

Steve Trott
email stevetrott

For votes, click on the link above and for additional support and donations, in cash or kinds, please contact Steve Trott for details. As only 1.000 more votes are needed to cross the critical threshold I do urge my readers to take a moment and help out, a rare request and appeal from me but one which just has to be made. After all a cleaner beach in Watamu will improve the guest experience and that in turn will through word of mouth, and the social media, perhaps attract more visitors to Watamu, which as long as it is kept clean is one of Kenya’s most spectacular beaches. Ball in your court, all needed in return for this free news service is your vote for this much deserved project.

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