Don’t forget ocean action on Blue Earth Day

By E. Heinrich-Sanchez & Reece Churilla

Photos by Chris Provan

Volunteers are needed both on land and sea this Saturday.

The Earth is Blue and without healthy and resilient oceans our breath will be taken away, permanently.  Grab a bag, cleanup or put on some tanks and dive to keep our oceans clean. A sustainable 22nd Century starts every 22nd of the month for a Blue Earth Day everyday.

Everyone can pitch in according to their ablities.

This week we celebrate Earth Day (Apr. 22) and would like to highlight this yearly event.

Join HOPE volunteers on land or sea this weekend and become a Hero Of Planet Earth (HOPE). Help Keep Kadena Marina Beautiful, on Sat., Apr. 26, from 8 to 11 a.m.  Register in advance at Kadena Marina:  http://kadenafss.com/phone

Okinawa is a beautiful island with vibrant beaches and shimmering seas, but it’s a beauty easily taken for granted. That’s where the Heroes of Planet Earth (H.O.P.E.) step in to help restore the environment through volunteer clean up opportunities.

Saturday, April 26, H.O.P.E. will host a clean up of the Kadena Marina both on land and in sea from 8 to 11 a.m. Volunteers on land will walk around the site removing trash and debris, while those snorkeling or diving scour the sea floor in a combined effort to protect the ecosystems and improve conditions for all who enjoy the marina.

The HOPE cleaning campaign aims to remove trash both from land and sea.

Participants must register in advance at the Kadena Marina and those planning to dive are required to bring certification cards. Divers may also bring their own gear or rentals. The Kadena Marina will open at 7 am and oxygen tanks will be provided at the clean up.

All ages are invited to attend. As a “thank you,” each volunteer will receive a H.O.P.E. water bottle.

For those unable to assist in the marina clean up this Saturday, H.O.P.E. on the Go will surely fit your schedule. This program invites those with SOFA status to clean up any area on Okinawa as a unit or group activity. Please register your project at Kadena Outdoor Recreation. They in turn will provide trash bags, gloves, and other resources to help you make a difference.

Be a hero this Saturday. Together, we can help keep Okinawa beautiful.

For the last 30 years, the Okinawa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (OCVB) has designated the 22nd of every month as the “Niko Niko” day; a day to keep our island home clean and full of smiles as a tourist destination.  Ni is 2 in Japanese and when said twice means “smile”.

For the past 20 years the Okinawa International Clean Beach Club (OICBC) in celebrating “Niko NIko Day” declared the third Sunday of the month closest to Niko Niko Day as Clean Beach Day

Since then together with the 11th Division Headquarters of the Japan Coast Guard the Okinawa Clean Coast Network (OCCN) was founded in 2002 averaging over 10,000 volunteers a year.  Cleanups are registered year round with two main campaigns: 1. The June to July “MARUGOTO (whole) Island Cleanup and 2. the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) managed by our partners at the Ocean Conservancy.  This year’s “MARUGOTO” will kick off on June 8th, the World Oceans Day. The OCCN cleanup English guidance is being worked on so in the mean time, use Google translator to navigate.  I will be happy to assist your organization to get connected.  The monthly e-newsletter highlights cleanups and volunteers.  OICBC as part of the I Love Okinawa Campaign® coordinates the Ryukyu ICC from September to November.

From last year’s Blue October gathering of experts in Okinawa, we have proposed that every 22nd of the month be designated as a day to work towards a sustainable 22nd Century.

This week, I would like to introduce Brett Nolan and share an excerpt from his post on The Blog Aquatic: “Don’t Forget the Ocean on Earth Day” as he calls us to take action, “With serious threats from plastic pollution to ocean acidification facing this vital resource, Earth Day is also a great time to take action to protect the ocean!”

Brett Nolan is a digital outreach coordinator at Ocean Conservancy’s DC office. Growing up outside of Boston, he spent many summers swimming and boating in New Hampshire’s Ossipee Lake. He became passionate about our ocean when he learned the negative affects a coal-fired power plant was having on Salem Harbor. When he’s not at the office, Brett enjoys freelance writing and exploring DC.

Brett writes, “As you celebrate Earth Day, don’t forget that over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is under the ocean — it makes up 99 percent of the living space on our planet, and is home to half of all species on Earth! More than 2.6 billion people depend on the ocean as their primary source for protein.”

To read his complete post go to http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/22/dont-forget-the-ocean-on-earth-day/#more-8035

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