Coastal clean-up at Robben Island

More than 100 volunteers from conservation NGOs across the city took part in a coastal clean-up at Robben Island.

Old shoes, foreign plastic bottles and lots of ship rope are some of the things found during a coastal clean-up at Robben Island yesterday, Thursday November 26.

More than 100 volunteers from ocean conservation NGOs including the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Shark Spotters, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, Robben Island Museum (RIM) and Peninsula Beverages got their hands dirty at the clean-up.

Volunteers at the coast of the island.

The clean-up, organised by RIM and Peninsula Beverages, is focused on raising awareness about ocean pollution, recycling as well as protecting conservation areas.

The senior manager of heritage and research at RIM, Thabo Seshoka, said the clean-up was the first of a series planned in the new year.

They planned to also invite schools to future events.

He said while RIM had dedicated maintenance and conservation teams continuously cleaning and taking care of the conservation areas, one of its biggest challenges is the waste on its coastlines largely attributed to waste from passing ships and land-based sources such as litter from Cape Town’s stormwater drains and rivers that ultimately flow into Table Bay, which impacts the conservation and marine protected areas of the island.

Some of the items found on the beach, most of which were plastic.

He said the coastal clean-up was about raising awareness about littering and where the waste lands up. “This island exists for everyone, and we want to show people the difference picking up a paper and throwing it in the bin can make.”

Maryke Musson, chairperson of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, sorting through rubbish found on the coast.

Maryke Musson, chairperson of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, said she was shocked at the state of the coastline. “All the dirt we found was land-based, and stuff from ships which washes up onto this beautiful coast, which is a pity, because the animals live in filth too.

“We look forward to more clean-ups in the future. We owe it to the island and the many people who visit here.”

Monwabisi Sikwyiya, field manager at Shark Spotters, said they picked up lots of plastic, which is bad for the environment. “I wish we could have these more frequently,” he said.

Peninsula Beverages communications manager, Priscilla Urquhart, said the company was committed to working with the RIM team to conserve the coastline and raise the importance of cleaning up after yourself.