Editorial comment – Making a difference

Minister for Forest and acting Minister for Fisheries Osea Naiqamu leads the march with children during the World Oceans Day celebration along Nasese on Friday, June 07, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE revelation that Ocean ambassadors of Captain Cook Cruises pick up about 90 kilograms of rubbish a week from places their cruise ships visit should be a concern.

It is encouraging to note the concerted effort to address an issue that is detrimental to our environment first up.

However, it is a concern that we are indiscriminately attacking our environment.

Some people are still not aware of the importance of the health of our environment.

They are still not willing to assist in the upkeep and protection of our environment.

Whether it is through a lack of understanding or awareness is an issue that must be addressed.

Perhaps it is something that the powers that be should understand.

Company general manager Tony Acland highlighted the role his company has played as Fiji joined the world in celebrating World Oceans Day on Saturday “Everywhere our cruise ships go, they do beach clean-up and they pick up at least 80 to 90kg of rubbish a week, particularly plastics,” Mr Acland said.

It is encouraging to note that there is a concerted effort leaning towards the protection of our natural resources. We adopt a no-care attitude when it comes to littering.

In fact, to a certain extent, we seem to have developed a habit that has become part of our lives.

People are still spitting out chewing gum, disposing of their cigarette butts indiscriminately, throwing out plastic food containers and utensils wherever they want to, doing the same with their used water or soft drink bottles, and plastic bags among other things.

Our beaches are filled with discarded waste, including plastic, old tyres, and used cans to name a few.

August last year Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that every “single piece of rubbish represents one thoughtless decision made by someone who couldn’t have been bothered to make the effort to dispose properly of their waste”.

He said because of such thoughtless decisions, the environment and people were threatened.

He made the comments while opening the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Clean Pacific Roundtable at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

The PM spoke about the need for us all to play our part to ensure the oceans are no longer seen as a dumping ground.

Rubbish that starts by the side of the road, he said, very often ended up washed into the sea.

While there was funding on a nationwide standardisation of rubbish bins and a stepped campaign of rubbish collection, he said, the State could not force people to use them.

Individuals must make that decision. Littering shouldn’t be a touchy issue. Laws are in place to curb this filthy habit.

Environmentalists believe littering is a nasty side effect of the “throw-away” or “convenience oriented” mentalities. We should be looking after our environment.

We should be proud of it, embrace what we have, and do the right thing.

People already making an effort to be part of the solution deserve acknowledgement.

But together, we can all make a difference.

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