San Juan – Despite an unprecedented scenario due to Covid-19, more than 1,400 volunteers who responded to the call of the Scuba Dogs Society (SDS) managed to remove over 90,000 items during the 2020 International Coastal Cleanup along beaches, rivers, reservoirs and streams of Puerto Rico, reported Ana Trujillo, executive director of the organization.
“We are extremely grateful and proud of the allied individuals and institutions that this year, despite the threat and inconvenience caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, underwent a rigorous registration, training and cleaning process. following strict health and safety measures ”, highlighted the marine biologist.
“Thank you all today we can celebrate that uninterruptedly for 18 years, and despite hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics, Puerto Rico has participated in the International Coastal Cleanup instituted by the Ocean Conservancy and carried out in more than 100 countries,” he added.
Trujillo explained that — according to preliminary reports from the four clean-ups carried out this year — 1,438 volunteers in 41 municipalities removed 90,309 items found along some 245.53 miles of coastline, and whose weight reached 13,322.98 pounds.
The estimates were calculated through the Clean Swell app, developed by the Ocean Conservancy and used locally this year.
“We were surprised by the number of miles covered and the work they did, clear evidence of the energy displayed by our volunteers, who exceeded our expectations for this year, which were lower due to the controls we should have given the complex reality that our planet lives. for the pandemic declared last March ”, explained the executive director.
The marine biologist also highlighted the trust, persistence and commitment shown this year by sponsors, partner organizations, municipalities, the government of Puerto Rico, coastal captains and other volunteers.
“They deserve our loudest applause,” he said.
He recalled that this year the work protocol was reengineered to guarantee the health and safety of the participants in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of cleaning in a single day (the third Saturday in September), as is usually the case, controlled cleanings were carried out on the first four Saturdays in October with a maximum of 30 people per coast, organized in groups of five or less, all wearing masks, as well as gloves (an item used every year) and other disinfection materials.
“None of this would have been possible without the excellent work of the Scuba Dogs Society internal team and the members of our Board of Directors, who at all times supported us to lead this unprecedented event,” Trujillo also acknowledged.
The multisectoral alliance led by Scuba Dogs Society, the official organizer in Puerto Rico of the International Coastal Cleanup, allowed Puerto Rico to be ranked number 13 in the world in mobilizing volunteers in 2019, with more than 12,000 people.
The data collected during each International Coastal Cleanup event allows documenting the problem of poor disposal of solid waste for research purposes, development of public policies, as well as strategies for citizen education and control of a problem that is global.
“Thanks to the work of our people and the joint efforts of various organizations, year after year we can show the disproportionate consumption and excessive use of plastics, one of the main pollutants in bodies of water. What allows us to affirm this? The fact that eight of the ten types of waste recovered by volunteers and classified by the Ocean Conservancy are plastic ”, illustrated the scientist.