Blue Guards, a youth fisher-led beach cleaning initiative, removed 12,068kg non-decomposable pollutants from the sea beaches covering Cox's Bazar Sadar, Moheshkhali, Ramu, Teknaf, Ukhiya and Patuakhali’s Kuakata in March-December 2021.
The pollutants include plastic bottles, polythene bag and sheet, food packet, single use plastics, and discarded nets, the WorldFish Bangladesh, which mobilised the initiative under its USAID-funded ECOFISH II Activity, said in a press release on Monday.
Under the initiative, WorldFish Bangladesh engaged local young people, both men and women (18-35 years old), around Cox’s Bazar and Patuakhali's Kuakata Sea beach areas and in the NijhumDwip Marine Protected Area (MPA) under its USAID funded ECOFISH II Activity.
Dr M A Wahab, team leader of ECOFISH II, said “Ocean is home to most of the World’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the globe, but ocean pollution has reached an alarming level day by day.
“Aiming to conserve the marine biodiversity and to optimise the potential of the blue economy in Bangladesh, we have mobilised the Blue Guards,” he said.
“A significant number of people involved in fishing in Bangladesh. Their lives and livelihoods depend on the ocean. Recognizing the youth potential, ECOFISH II involved youth fishers as “Blue Guards” to keep the coastal waters clean” Mr Wahab added.
So far, about 100 youths (including 20 per cent women) are engaged as Blue Guards and the number will be increased to 200 and the initiative will cover the St. Martin’s Island as well this year, 2022.
The Blue Guards dispose of plastics and discarded fishing nets collected from coastal waters and beaches using the local plastic recycling system or storing in a safer place.
In addition, they voluntarily work with the EOCFISH II team in marine biodiversity conservation and developing awareness among the fishermen to sympathetically treat the megafauna, sharks, turtles, dolphin, porpoises and small whales if they are knotted in fishing nets and carefully release them into the waters.
The practice of releasing knotted turtles and dolphins has gained popularity among the artisanal fishing boat skippers.
The Blue Guards have received training from the ECOFISH II on various aspects of beach cleaning, marine biodiversity conservation, and got equipped with necessary logistics including jersey, trouser, cap and shoes.