Gully hikes could be a new addition to the Coastal Zone Management Unit’s efforts to sensitise the public about the impact inland activity can have on the island’s coastline.
Mentioning that engaging outdoor activity was often the best education method on such matters, Acting Coastal Planner with the Unit, Fabian Hinds, made the disclosure after a tour of the west coast reefs on the Atlantis Submarines.
Hinds, in discussion on the shuttle on the way back to land, said that Coastal Zone was hoping to have more dives like the one today for World Environment Day in the future.
“Hopefully in the future we will be able to have more of these types of activities. People might be familiar with activities like Water World, we take numerous schools and entities on tours of the boardwalk and hikes etc. So we are looking to diversify our public education outreach initiatives and Sadie [-Ann Jones, coastal research officer] and I have had discussions that maybe once every quarter or so we can reintroduce gully hikes in addition to coastal hikes.
“We have … beaten that coastal hike issue but we can use the gully hikes because the gullies are linked to the coastline,” he said adding that they had invited the Environmental Protection Department, the Drainage Division, along with the Minister and his team to see how they could all work together to fulfil the mandate to protect the reefs.
Hinds noted that in some areas during the tour there was evidence of the corals looking stressed and some areas where they were dead, while others had vibrant looking reefs with heavy fish populations.
“Obviously our coral reefs are stressed. They are impacted by large volumes of storm water run-off that carry the soil and pollutants, stuff you can see and stuff you cannot see, including solid waste and bacteria from the soil into our marine environment.
“So that is a challenge in terms of trying to protect the marine environment from any pollutants carried by the storm water run-off. In terms of solid waste, that impacts as well…,” he said.
While there was not a lot of evidence of solid waste on the reefs, Hinds said he believed the distance of the reef from the shore was a factor, adding that those closer to land bore greater impact of debris and other solid waste pollutants.
Some of this, the coastal planner said came from debris blowing off pleasure vessels at sea, as well as dumping near the coastlines.
“You tend to see a lot more solid waste associated with the near-shore reefs, the fringing reefs that are close to the shorelines, and that solid waste gets there by two means, they can be washed into the near shore marine environment via the numerous storm water drains along our coastlines; they can be wind-blown or wind-swept into the sea when our locals and visitors leave it on the beaches and not in the garbage cans; or they can be thrown overboard from the coastal cruisers, the boats and catamarans and so on,” he noted. (LB)