Every year International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), initiated by the Ocean Conservancy in partnership with Coca-Cola, holds the world's largest voluntary coastal cleanup effort all over the world including Bangladesh.
This year, the initiative is going to mark its landmark 10th edition without any break. Through this initiative by Kewkradong Bangladesh and Coca-Cola Bangladesh, more than 4,000 people from different walks of life have volunteered and collected over 10,500 kilograms marine debris in last nine years.
Ocean Conservancy's country coordinator- Kewkradong Bangladesh, in partnership with Coca-Cola Bangladesh, has been arranging the coastal cleanup and marine conservation drive along the beach of St Martin's Island for past nine years.
Coca-Cola Bangladesh is supporting the initiative as part of the company's global commitment to create a "World Without Waste" by 2030 to raise public awareness among people to save the sea-land & species from manmade disasters.
Tourists in search of serendipity often travel to St Martin and leave their consumed wastages and debris behind i.e. wrappers, bottles, polybags, boxes, cigarette filters, etc.
As most of the plastics are not designed in a way to biodegrade when their useful life is over, as a result, these pollutants are having disastrous effects on the delicately balanced ecosystem and it is critical to its habitat.
According to the latest survey conducted by the Department of the Environment, more than 100 species of birds in the coral island area along with many more species of corals, crabs, algae, snails, oysters and cowries. Dolphins and whales can also be seen there occasionally.
The Department of the Environment's survey shows that currently there are only 68 species of corals on the Island, whereas the number was 141 in 1980.
A latest study published in September 2020 in the 'International Ocean Science Journal' says that Saint Martin's island may be depleted of coral by 2045, if proper steps are not taken, mainly from coral collection and overfishing, to save the coral species.
Moreover, the island is suffering the most from a growing number of tourists and the garbage they throw out on the beach, which are mostly not biodegradable.
Md Raihan Obaidullah, one of the volunteers, who is working for International Coastal Cleanup since the journey begun in Bangladesh, said, "If we have to live in harmony with nature, we have to protect and care for it."
"For the past 10 years, we are trying to raise awareness about marine debris and bringing behavioral changes," said Mozaharul Haq, another volunteer of the ICC initiative.
Meanwhile, a loving married couple, both lawyers by profession, Md Shakhawat Chowdhury and Habiba Islam, are also involved in this mammoth effort for many years.