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Okinawa International Clean Beach Club to receive prestigious award

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2001-10-01

Since 1992, the Okinawa International Clean Beach Club (OICBC) has participated in a global effort to rid the world's oceans of marine debris by founding a volunteer event called the Okinawa Cleanup Yuimaru. Coordinators for the Okinawa Cleanup Yuimaru recently worked with many volunteers from all walks of life in September 15 and 16 events that kicked off this year's Clean Up Yuimaru. As part of the I Love Okinawa (c) campaign led by the Ocean Culture & Environment Action Network (O.C.E.A.N.), the group would like to offer its thanks to the many volunteers who came out to help clean up Okinawa's beaches. During the cleanup, there were over 20 countries represented in the group of volunteers and helpers. At the start of the event the group held a minute of silence to remember those who perished in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. The Okinawa Cleanup Yuimaru kicked off on Sep. 15, but those interested in joining in this international effort have until Oct. 15 to get involved.

Yuimaru is an Okinawan word meaning cooperation, and this is your chance to cooperate with many other volunteers in an effort to rid Okinawa's beautiful beaches of trash. Together, with over 30,000 volunteers, representing many different countries around the world, the group has removed tons of marine debris from Okinawa's coastline and has saved countless fish and aquatic animals from possible death caused by mistaking garbage for food and ingesting it. The group has been an invaluable asset to Okinawa and has recently been selected by the Foundation for Encouragement of Social Contribution (FESCO) for it's International Cooperation Award. In the presence of His and Her Royal Highness, the Prince and Princess Hitachinomiya, and under the auspices of several other prestigious government organizations, OICBC founders Edo Heinrich Sanchez, Kenny Ehman, and Eisaka Tawaka will receive the International Cooperation Award in Tokyo on Oct. 29, 2001. This award will include a one million yen cash contribution donated by the Nipon Foundation Prize to help with OCEAN and OICBC's efforts. The achievements of O.C.E.A.N. and the Okinawa International Clean Beach Club will also appear along with those of other award recipients in a book that will be distributed to libraries and other resource centers throughout Japan.

Since 1992, the group has removed countless tons of debris from Okinawa's coastline and has collected valuable data. The group is also very active in environmental education at elementary and junior high schools, and one of the organization's main future goals include an international marine education program that will connect elementary school students from Okinawa, Hawaii, Cuba, and the Canary Islands via the Internet. This will enable children to share information about the marine environment while providing classroom and outdoor activities to promote marine conservation.

If you would like to get involved in Okinawa Clean Beach Club's Okinawa Cleanup Yuimaru, now is the time! For more information on how you can get involved, be sure to visit www.okinawaocean.wwma.net or call or fax the group at 098-965-5371

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