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Rotarians to join International Coastal Cleanup

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 THE Rotary Club of Saipan will participate in the International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 19 as part of an ongoing campaign against marine debris.

“This is a topic that is really close to my heart and to my profession,” said club president Sonya Dancoe, a professional engineer.

She also encourages her fellow Rotarians to support the campaign for a  plastic-free Marianas and zero-waste lifestyle.

“It is very important for us to keep our island beautiful, safe and clean, not only for ourselves today but for our future,” she said.

She lauded Division of Coastal Resources Management communications assistant Colleen Flores and communications specialist Mallory Muna for sharing information about the impact of marine debris during the regular club meeting on Tuesday in the Hyatt Regency ballroom.

In her presentation, Flores said marine debris has become a “huge problem”  because it is made up of non-biodegradable materials.

She said plastic never fully breaks down and will just get smaller and smaller.

Division of Coastal Resources Management communications assistant Colleen Flores and communications specialist Mallory Muna discuss the upcoming International Coastal Cleanup. On the stage are Rotary Club of Saipan president Sonya Dancoe, president-elect Sean Ficke,  vice president Wendel Posadas and secretary Irene Holl. Photo by Junhan B. Todino

Flores said among the causes of land-based marine debris are segmentation of loose dirt that ends up in the water after a heavy storm; human and animal waste from piggeries and sewage outfall and overflow; and illegal disposal of oil.

The ocean-based causes of marine debris are difficult to pinpoint, but these could include abandoned or derelict vessels, abandoned or missing fishing gear like fishing net, oil spills from ships, she said.

Flores said there are garbage patches around the world and coastal communities like Saipan are now experiencing the impact of marine debris.

Last year, she added, 1,000 pounds of marine debris was collected at Laulau Beach within four hours.

“Marine debris is a consistent problem,” she said, adding that this includes marine debris washed up from China and Hawaii.

Muna said DCRM  launched the Plastic-Free Marianas campaign in 2018 to educate and inform the community about the environmental and public health impact of single-use plastics.

In an interview, Muna noted that this year’s International Coastal Cleanup will be conducted amid  the Covid-19 pandemic and may affect the number of participants.

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