The Nature Foundation St Maarten was informed about a massive amount of littering which took place at Mullet Bay Beach over the weekend. The trash contained many different types of single-use plastics including Styrofoam, beer bottles, cans, boxes and much more. Also, car tracks on the beach were found, driving over the beach could cause serious damage to sea turtle nests, with very high likeliness of total nest destruction due to parking and driving on the beach. Considering the lack of tourists on the island, it is clear that residents of St. Maarten should take the responsibilities and accountability for this mess left behind and learn to clean-up what they bring.
“Education and responsibility need to be taken up by our residents, leaving this mess behind clearly shows the lack of awareness and responsibility for our environment by certain residents. Everyone should understand that they seriously harm our ecosystem by littering, causing a horrible scene and damages our island image. Noticing the large amount of plastics on the beach, a ban on single-use plastics is very much needed in St Maarten and all businesses should move to reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead. People need to dispose of their trash responsibly, which means in a trash bin and not on the beach, in the environment or on public roads. Wind and rain can cause a significant amount of these plastic straws, cups and trash to end up in our ocean and environment. Therefore, we are asking all residents to dispose of their trash properly and if bins are overfull take your trash to another bin or container” stated Nature Foundation Manager Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
Beach driving causes serious harm to our sea turtle population, their beach habitat and survival are severely threatened on St. Maarten, especially previous year caused a high mortality rate among the species due to beach driving, destruction and trash.
“Last year we reported on several dead sea turtles, whereby even two sea turtles died in our trash and hatching sea turtles were hampered reaching the ocean due to beach litter. Frequent beach driving activities cause sea turtle eggs to crush and beach construction leaves no room for sea turtles to nest. Verified sea turtle nests appear to be scarce the past years and the hatch success of our nests seem to be very low, indicating disturbances on the beach such as beach driving or habitat destruction. We are seriously concerned about the survival chances of our sea turtle population and urge to increase and enforce the protection level of our precious beaches” continued Meijer zu Schlochtern.
St Maarten uses a remarkably high amount of single-use plastics every day, as plastic bags are given for free for every purchased item and plastic straws with any drink. Also, takeout food in Styrofoam is standard and very popular, which also includes the use of plastic cutlery. The Nature Foundation calculated that Dutch St Maarten alone uses more than 1.4 billion plastic straws a year; straws are used for a few minutes and last forever in the local environment. These single-use plastics are some of the most environmentally damaging products on the island. These items do not biodegrade and stay in the ecosystem and oceans forever, causing impacts to the environment, animals and humans. Plastic releases harmful chemicals when it breaks down into smaller pieces that are ingested by marine life and eventually humans, new research even shows greenhouse gas production when plastic breaks down.
Photo Caption: Massive amounts of single-use plastics, trash, beer bottles and boxes were left on Mullet Bay Beach by local visitors over the weekend, pictures taken by Annee Blaum.