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Get involved with this year's "International Coastal Cleanup"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-09-04

The "Okinawa International Clean Beach Club" (OICBC) is gathering volunteers to participate in the annual "International Coastal Cleanup" on September 19 and 20. This year, the event is being tied in with the United Nation's sponsored "Year of the Ocean".

The non-profit organization has been coordinating the cleanup, known locally as "Okinawa Cleanup Yuimaru" since 1993. The event is part of an international effort that was started by the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC), located in Washington D.C., several years ago. During the yearly September cleanup, volunteers from around the world not only pick up trash, but they also use data cards to record the different types of marine debris found on each beach. The data collected here on Okinawa is used by the OICBC to publish a yearly report, which is distributed to government agencies and other environmental organizations.

OICBC also sends the data to CMC, to be added to their data base of marine debris from around the globe. CMC publishes the results of the international cleanup, and presents the data directly to the United Nations, where it is used to create international laws and treaties on the problem of marine pollution. The data collection from around the world was a major part of MARPOL (Marine Pollution Act).

"This cleanup event not only rids our coastline of garbage, but it is one of the few volunteer efforts where the average citizen can actually have a direct impact on finding solutions to the problem," said co-founder of OICBC, Edo Heinrich Sanchez. "It is one of the main reasons why we stress the importance of the data collection. Without solutions, we would always have to pick up garbage."

Last year the cleanup had over 2,700 volunteers clean 27 different locations, including several underwater sites. PADI Japan and MWR PADI joined forces for one of the largest turnout of divers last year at the Sunabe sea wall. The United States Marine Corps also spearheaded the first major involvement by the United States Military here on Okinawa. They were directly responsible for several of the cleanup locations, and they have shown much support again this year. "We had much support from the Marine Corps and MWR last year, and we now have established a good working relationship with them, which definitely benefits both the local and military community," said Sanchez.

"The Army has also officially adopted the International Coastal Cleanup as a community service for 1998, and we are now in contact with them to see if we can get participation here on Okinawa," further explained Sanchez.

The OICBC is now coordinating different groups together with the local governments for trash removal. They are still looking for more groups to do either underwater or beach cleanups, especially schools. "Even if you are a small group of just three or four people, or just one family, you can still organize your own cleanup. If you have a favorite beach you like to go to, or maybe a favorite dive site, you and your friends, and family can participate," said Sanchez. OICBC plans on having data cards available at Schilling Recreation's REACH Center for anyone that wishes to do their own cleanup. Other large groups should contact OICBC for more data cards and further information. He also stressed that although the cleanup date is set for September 19 and 20, the data collection will last until the end of October, giving all groups a chance to participate within a two month period.

Individuals that wish to simply show up and volunteer, can do so at three different locations:

Sunabe sea wall and underwater cleanup
September 19 10 am

Senega Island cleanup
September 20 9 am

Maeda Point coastline and underwater cleanup
September 20 10 am

For more information, please contact OICBC at 965-5371 or 964-2517. Military groups or organizations can also contact Lieutenant Courtney Wyckoff of the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office at 645-9337.

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