BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 9th August 2019) – “We need to save our beaches. People who go snorkeling tell me all the time that there is almost more plastic in the ocean than they see fish in St.Kitts right now, and so I decided to dress up to depict that to show the plastic and to show a diver or snorkeler and the type of experience he/she feels when he/she gets into our waters.”
So said beach bar ownerJohn Francis during a recent interview with this media house following the Plastic Free SKN march.
In showcasing his concern over ocean pollution, he wore various plastic items about his body including bags, bottles, cups and Styrofoam plates.
Francis went on to say: “It’s a growing pollution problem. It’s a big issue that affects everybody. plastic is a problem; it’s an ongoing problem and my decision to join this one (movement)- you have to have a voice, you have to talk it out loud [because] people have to hear, people need to be reminded and people need to be educated.”
Francis who originally hails from the community of Saddlers shared: “When the message came out to rally, I thought about the beaches- Save our beaches. I am an owner of a beach bar in South Friars Bay and every week I pick up at least 10 kilograms -that’s one of those 30 gallon plastic bags full of plastic waste-outside of my beach bar, and this is not plastic generated from my customers but just people who leave plastic on the beach.”
“Plastic is not sustainable. People throw away plastic a lot in general. Specifically for me, I’m concerned about the beaches ‘Save our beaches’. If I can do my little piece for the beaches, I think that I have done a lot,” he also commented.
Tricia Greaux of the Department of Marine Resources who is a member the St.Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), during a separate interview, explained why the Plastic Free SKN movement is significant.
“This whole movement is important to us because we have to protect the marine life and plastics usually end up in the ocean and so it actually hinders progress and even life of our marine life, and so turtles, marine birds and different organisms in our ocean actually suffer because of the presence of plastic and so it would be imperative for us to really join in and help to promote the movement of Plastic Free SKN.”
Meanwhile, Francis highlighted that he snorkels in his spare time.
“I have a look around and see what’s in the ocean. It’s very beautiful down there and so it’s a shame to see so much plastic on the beach or in the ocean.”
He gave his take further as to why the beaches are important.
“The beaches are very important. For us as a people it’s a heritage…Some of us in St.Kitts, we take it for granted. Antigua claims that they have 365 beaches and we have probably half a dozen but you cannot access all the 365 beaches in Antigua but you can access all of our beaches; by law, the beaches are ours and we must have direct access to them.”
Francis added: “It’s very important for us to maintain them, it’s very important to understand they’re our heritage and to understand the balance of the environment that the beaches hold; the filtering of the water-the water is coming down from the ghauts-all the waters from the ghauts end up in our beaches. If you live in mountainous areas and you throw thrash into the ghauts, it ends up on the beaches so the beaches are really, really important not just for tourism which is all some people think about; tourism is a by-product of our lives and it’s important that other people should come and see our lifestyle which involves our beaches. We don’t keep the beaches clean for tourists/tourism-no, no, no; we keep the beaches clean for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.”