Pualele cleans up in honor of plastic ban

Pualele Outrigger Canoe Club (POCC) hosted its second coastal clean-up last Saturday at Taumeasina Bay. 

Organised to commemorate the Samoa Plastic Ban legislation that comes into effect this Friday, POCC volunteers included the National Women’s Outrigger Team and Tautai Paddling Club.

Marine litter is a global, intergenerational and transboundary issue that negatively affects the environment, people and coastal economies around the world.  

To address this global environmental problem, coastal clean-ups are organized to advocate action towards addressing marine litter and plastic pollution from source.  

Removing litter is only one of the benefits as events like this also engage local environmental stewardship, collect data and raise awareness about the issues of marine litter and plastic pollution.  

“Here at Pualele OCC we are always looking for opportunities to engage with the community in worthwhile partnerships,” said Pualele Club President, Manu’a Dr. Cam Wendt.

“As a Club of enthusiastic outrigger canoe paddlers the ocean is our highway. But it’s become more and more obvious over the last 2-3 years the increase in the amount of plastic and Styrofoam rubbish items floating around as we paddle. This coastal clean-up was a great opportunity to build awareness amongst our club members of the need to keep our environment clean; to stop this kind of rubbish before it gets into the ocean.”

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“It was also a great opportunity to do something for our Taumeasina and Moata’a community and complements nicely the SPG-GEF grant we received to protect the foreshore and raise awareness with the surrounding community about waste disposal, which we will be doing once we’ve completed our information centre.”

In addition to picking up rubbish from coastlines and waterways along Taumeasina, volunteers from the Pualele OCC collected data about the amounts and types of rubbish recovered.  

They then recorded this valuable information onto the Tangaroa Blue Marine Debris App, to be shared with other Pacific islands to help understand the issue better and implement appropriate solutions.

From a distance of about 1.5km of beach covered, the amount of rubbish was staggering. Some 157kgs of trash was collected, including 325 plastic bags, 1653 food wrappers, 128 plastic forks, knives and spoons, 11 disposable nappies, 155 plastic and Styrofoam food packaging, 48 shoes, 352 plastic drink bottles, 432 aluminium cans and more.

Anthony Talouli, SPREP’s Pollution Adviser said a clean ocean is everyone’s responsibility. 

“What we do on land affects what happens in our ocean. Community cleanup activities are great ways to advocate for change in behaviour for good waste management practices. Using data to create change in behaviour,” he said. 

“If all we do is clean up, than that is all we will ever do. The cleanup provides scientific evidence to support the Samoa plastic bag and straw ban. Addressing plastics from source through alternatives and less consumption.”

All waste collected is stored in the Ocean Trash Index, having been recorded by item and by the Ocean Conservancy each year culminating in a global snapshot of the marine debris found across the world.

The aim of the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup is to work with volunteers to collect waste from coasts and waterways, help determine the sources of debris and change the behaviours that help cause the problem.

Pualele is grateful to Anthony and Sera Talouli for coordinating such an important and vital activity for a cleaner and more beautiful Samoa!

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