Last update: 06-Dec-2013 9:53 pm
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Punta Allen pollution: a product of T&T
Last year, in Mexico, I squeezed my 6ft 2in frame in the daily mini bus from the town of Tullum to the ecotourism and fishing village of Punta Allen in the Sian Ka’an biosphere, a Unesco World Heritage site. A long, bumpy trip followed; 50 km over an unpaved road with potholes the size of toilet bowls. Mad as it sounds, I was on a quest to find a bottle. It started with a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation podcast describing Punta Allen as “the town that lobster built”. 70 per cent of Mexican lobsters originate there. At word was a lobsterman called Charley, complaining about tons of plastic in the waters. By the sounds of it, they had a serious problem with plastic pollution.
Mayra Carillo, head of the local recycling committee, explained how she and a group of local women conduct a monthly beach clean-up. Thousands of plastic bottles are collected, (in Punta Allen, Mexico) and this is where my ears peaked: “Most is soda bottles from Jamaica and Trinidad y Tobago”. Tourists complain about the mess; fish and other marine animals are found with plastic in their stomachs. Some things you need to know about Punta Allen; because it’s in a Unesco World Heritage site, development is highly regulated; the roads are sandy tracks; the town generator only provides electricity a few hours a day. In front of most houses is a collection bin for plastic bottle recycling. It’s about 2,000 km from Trinidad to Punta Allen. Both lie on the Caribbean Sea and maps show ocean currents flowing from one to the other. I had to see this for myself.
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