The observance of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on September 16, 2023 has gathered thousands of volunteers to clean up the shorelines in different areas of the country.

With the theme “Clean Seas for Healthy Fisheries” the activity strongly supports the objectives of the United Nations (UN) Ocean Decade Challenge 3 – to “Sustainably Feed the Global Population.” ICC is one of the world’s largest volunteer efforts aimed at raising awareness on the health of our oceans and bodies of water.

In Western Visayas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the conduct of the International Coastal Cleanup from the regional office down to its field offices in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

More than twelve thousand kilograms (12,000) estimated plastic wastes are collected from the six provinces of Western Visayas. The weight of estimated plastic wastes is equivalent to 983 sacks, more or less. Volunteers number to more than three thousand, with 1,379 males and 1,523 females, with few other field offices yet to submit their final count.

This is the first largest ICC event after the pandemic hit countries around the world and one which forced us into keeping our distance from one another. The ICC events of 2020 until 2022 were done on small scale in compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

Volunteers from all sectors of society eagerly lend a hand during the momentous event that brought them together again for one good cause. They grouped themselves and took part in the tedious process of meticulously identifying wastes and filling up the ICC Ocean Trash Data Form, which are submitted to the Ocean Conservancy. In this way, ICC volunteers contribute to the global efforts of combating plastic pollution.

“Our oceans produce fifty percent of the oxygen on this planet and it holds far more diverse natural resources that benefit mankind. From our oceans we harvest fishes that feed us, medicines that heal us and even renewable energy resources that power our homes,” notes DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

“Let each one of us do our part in minimizing, if not eradicating, microplastic pollution in our oceans. We can each start right inside our homes by practicing proper solid waste management. Do the 5 Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle. We do this not just for us but for the sustainable future of the coming generations,” Duran said.