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Reef Tips | Help keep our land and sea litter-free

Every journey begins with a single step (Tzu), and I believe that the Coral Reef Initiative Summer Internship was that step.

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I had the pleasure of being one of the ten participants of the Coral Reef Initiative (CRI) Internship. This opportunity was not just a single step to my future, but also to the island’s future well-being. As a CRI Intern, I had the opportunity to work with the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), a non-profit organization dedicated and committed to the protection and conservation of the natural resources in the CNMI. During this summer internship with MINA, I assisted with their Outreach and Education Program with a focus on marine debris.

One of the main projects I worked on was to create new outreach materials with updated and more informative content that covered the definition of marine debris and the threat that it causes, one being that coral reefs and “animals may become entangled in debris...or may ingest plastic materials” (Laist), as well as the spread of invasive species from debris and its risks to humans. The other project I had was to work on creating an activity to draw more attention of children and make the learning process about marine debris more fun and interesting. Together with MINA, I joined public events such as the Fish and Seafood Festival and The Saipan International Fishing Tournament, where we performed public outreach. Through these types of events, we hope to spread the awareness of how harmful marine debris is and how it affects all of us. Hopefully, these types of activities will convince people to help clean around the island as a community and prevent any more debris from entering the ocean that will harm the health of precious coral and marine resources.

Outreach was not the only thing we did at MINA; beach clean ups and maintenance around recycling bins from MINA’s Adopt a Bin Program was also undertaken. We also did beach surveillance with Tasi Watch, where we looked for sightings of illegal dumping and run-offs; we reported these violations to the proper agencies and assisted in the clean-up.

My experience in the Coral Reef Initiative Internship with MINA was a great first step for me, the island, and everyone in it. I was able to do public speaking in outreaches at public events and help educate people and the future generations about marine debris. Hopefully, these small single steps will result in a march of people supporting the cause of conserving the NMI’s coral reefs and precious natural resources.

Citations

Laist, Dave. “Overview of the Biological Effects of Lost and Discarded Plastic Debris in the Marine Environment.” Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, Elsevier, 23 Aug. 2006,