Stopping short of calling littering fines in Barbados a joke, Minister of Environment Dr. Denis Lowe today indicated that a more serious approach to the problem was needed.
He was speaking in the context of the damage littering, both inland and at sea, was doing to marine life and in particular the coral reefs, following an Atlantis Submarine tour of the west coast.
Referring to a study done by the Environmental Protection Department of the area around Walkers Bay, he commented that the results had shown there was a marked “escalation in the tonnage of the solid waste found there in that beach and around that area”.
Noting that while some was as a result of inland activity, Lowe said the items also reflected that off-shore users were illegally dumping overboard or allowing the items to fall into the sea.
“That is something we have to come up with a fix for as soon as possible,” he said.
Asked about any developments regarding anti-dumping or littering laws, he stated: “There is a new Solid Waste Management Act that has been drafted by the ministry. The permanent secretary and I are going to be having a meeting very shortly with the relevant authorities to go through it, but from a glance there are some issues addressed relative to penalties and enforcement of law.
“I think one of the problems we have in our society is not so much the absence of laws, it is the lack in enforcing those laws and really attaching the right type of penalty. If you charge a guy $10 for littering, we lose $20 sometimes just by dropping it. So what is there to be a deterrent.
“I think we have to get serious about this because the state of our country is really our business and we cannot have a sustainable tourism industry if we don’t have a clean Barbados. Beyond that, we cannot have a sustainable environment unless we seek seriously to ensure that those persons who are contributing to this degradation are brought before the law courts and penalised for such,” the minister said. (LB)