Kenya records decline in coastline debris

April 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – Kenya has recorded a significant drop in the level of marine pollution, according to the latest Marine Debris Index released by the Ocean Conservancy.

Dubbed Trash Travels from Our Hands to the Sea, around the globe and through time, the report shows a decline in debris dumped at the Kenyan coastline as compared to last year.

Kenya – one of the seven African countries covered in the report with over 3,600 items collected at its coastline – had improved significantly as compared to 2009, where there was a record 91,000 pieces of debris collected. This represents a 2400 percent reduction. South Africa recorded the highest number of debris, followed by Egypt.  Other African countries investigated included Tanzania, Ghana, Togo, and Namibia.

Syringes, condoms, food wrappers, clothing, shoes, plastic and glass bottles are just some of the debris found in Kenya’s coastal waters. Compared to 2,000 condoms collected in the Kenyan waters of the India Ocean in 2008 (being fourth highest in the world), only 104 condoms were collected in 2009 showing a big improvement.

Leisure and entertainment contributed to debris such as plastic and paper bags, balloons, beverage bottles (plastic and glass) clothing, shoes, food wrappers and containers, straws and toys ending up in the Kenyan coastline. These pieces represented 75 percent of total debris collected at 2,719 in number.

“This report shows the commitment by Kenyan people to taking environmental issues seriously. This is also encouraging as it shows we can stop dumping by changing our behaviors and being more responsible with our trash – re-using items, reducing the excess packaging we consume, recycling everything we can, and ultimately re-thinking our relationship with the ocean and our planet. Trash doesn’t fall from the sky; it falls from human hands—those hands have the power to stop it,” says Fred Sewe, the local coordinator of International Coastal Clean-up, a grouping of volunteers concerned with the marine eco-system.

“Our ocean is essential to the health of everything on the planet – including our own.  Whether we live near a coast or hundreds of miles inland, we are all connected to the ocean –from the air we breathe to the food we eat,” continues Mr Sewe.

The report is the world’s only country-by-country, state-by-state analysis of trash in our ocean, lakes, rivers, and streams. It was generated from the international coastal clean- up, held in September 2009.

According to the report, sixty percent of all debris items found in 2009 were “disposable” – cups, forks, and knives. Closing the loop and choosing re-usable items which can be recycled, will greatly help put trash in its place.

Globally, Unites States of America recorded the highest number of debris at 4,201,962.

Around the world the trash was collected and the data recorded by the nearly 500,000 volunteers who combed local beaches and waterways during 2009, 24th International Coastal Cleanup- the largest volunteer effort of its kind. Volunteers removed nearly seven million pounds of debris, from 108 countries with a common mission of improving the health of oceans.

“Momentum is building. There is a growing understanding of the significant impact trash has on wildlife, the economy and the productivity and resiliency of our ocean,” said Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy.  “The data generated by hundreds of thousands of dedicated volunteers around the world provide us with a global snapshot of the trash in our ocean, but cleanups alone cannot solve the problem – it’s time to stop marine debris at the source. From design to disposal, we all have a role to play: corporations can reduce packaging, governments can enact strong marine debris policies, and each of us can choose re-usable items, recycle when possible and put trash in its place.”

“Eliminating the threat of marine debris will help improve the ocean’s resilience. Our ocean is our life-support system, and when we trash our ocean we are trashing our own health and well-being,” concluded Spruill.

The 2009 International Coastal Cleanup, by the numbers:

Volunteers found 336 marine animals, including 138 birds, entangled in marine debris – 120 of the animals were still alive and released.  Fishing line and nets were some of the most dangerous items, trapping over 200 animals. 

Volunteers found 512,517 cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons – enough to provide a full set of dinnerware to over 100,000 people.

Volunteers around the world covered 14,827 miles – more than six times the length of the Mississippi river.

Volunteers found 58,881 bottles of oil/lube during the cleanup. This is the amount that would be used to change the oil in nearly 12,000 mid-sized cars.

The report recommends that by expanding public and private partnerships by having more corporations and private citizens join government, foundations, and non-governmental organizations in the environmental arena will assist in monitor and reduce marine debris. Funding increases research on the sources and impacts of marine debris, reduce, reuse, recycle, Also seeking better technological solutions such as bottle designs that use less plastic and environmentally friendly materials, the Government, for its part, must lead with policy changes that include strategies to minimize the negative impacts climate change has on the ocean and policies that reduce sources of marine debris. Lastly it never fails to engage in community Cleanup events

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup engages volunteer organisations and individuals to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches and waterways; to identify the sources of debris; and to change policies and behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place. Visit to download the report and to find out what you can do to make a difference – including signing up for the 25th International Coastal Cleanup to be held around the world on September 25th, 2010. 


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