Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC)

Let's Clean Up Mullet Pond!
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Let’s Clean Up Mullet Pond!

Founded in 2007, the EPIC Foundation’s mission is to protect the environment through research, outreach, and community-based action. Their education program has reached thousands of participants and conservation actions have included litter cleanups, tree plantings, policy advocacy, and eco-label certifications for sustainable tourism among others.

Mullet Pond is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention due to its mangroves and seagrass. EPIC will hold a one-day cleanup action in Mullet Pond to remove hurricane debris and litter both above and below water. They will partner with other Foundations, community groups, schools, and businesses to recruit volunteers, including snorkelers and divers as well as boats to haul the collected waste. Waste will be weighed and underwater litter reported to Project Aware’s Dive Against Debris citizen-science program. The effort will be promoted through social and print media, raising awareness of the impacts of marine debris.

1) It’s been over a year since Hurricane Irma hit yet large amounts of land and boat-based debris persist in our environment. This effort will reduce marine debris which threatens sea life, such as fish, birds, and sea turtles, with entanglement and ingestion. Even large items such as boat parts are a threat as they break down into microplastics which are consumed by a broad spectrum of marine life.

2) Community-based efforts such as litter cleanups of public spaces help to build a sense of shared purpose and connection among participants across diverse social groups. This sense of community and making a difference enrich civic pride and engagement in serving the public good. Cleanups in particular offer a clear sense of accomplishment and positive feedback through objective standards such as the number of tons of debris removed or the visual reward of seeing the piles of trash removed and improved habitat. EPIC also raises awareness about the negative impacts of litter through public participation and social and traditional media regarding the event.

3) Data on hurricane debris and litter collected will contribute to an international database. This event is an opportunity to train citizen-scientists who can continue to use the data collection protocol and submit their own data on subsequent dives. The data collected will demonstrate the types of litter which are primary issues for St. Maarten with potential policy implications.

EPIC is a fantastic environmental organization on St. Maarten. Check them out on Facebook and show your support!