| October 18, 2013
The Mega Clean Up effort is scheduled for Saturday, October 26. The event will begin at approximately 8 a.m. as volunteers on foot and on a flotilla of kayaks and small boats will launch from nine pre-determined points surrounding the lagoons.
The Mega Limpieza II follows an earlier clean-up effort in March of this year. In that clean up, close to 500 volunteers collected more than 30,000 pounds of garbage in less than four hours.
"The March clean up turned out to be just the beginning," said Israel Umpierre, collaborator of the movement Mega Limpieza I & II, and founder of the Facebook group Pesca, Playa y Ambiente. "There is so much more left to do. Our objective is to create conscience, among citizens and government, about the importance of protecting this unique resource for present a future generations. We are extremely happy to welcome Dr. Harvey to Puerto Rico for this second Mega Limpieza."
Reckless and illegal dumping of trash, according to event organizers, threatens to compromise the health of what many regard as one of the most abundant estuary systems in the Caribbean and Western Hemisphere, and one of the best tarpon recreational fishing grounds.
Litter and trash in the lagoons and streams feeding the estuary have accumulated in the estuary's mangrove-lined shores, which act as a natural filter. Beyond creating an unsightly scene, the trash threatens the water quality and creates safety hazards.
A groundswell community response in March to this mess helped launch the social networking site "Pesca, Playa y Ambiente," which has now evolved into a non-profit organization committed to clean-ups in San Juan and throughout Puerto Rico. Members joined forces and have reached out to individuals, fishing and environmental organizations and the government agencies Sports and Recreation Depatment (SRD), Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNAR), the Environmental Quality Board and Solid Waste Authority (SWA) and the Department of Education.
"This is a man-made problem with hopefully man-made solutions," said Dr. Harvey, who has worked tirelessly around the world to initiate studies and resulting conservation measures to provide for sustainable fisheries and healthy oceans. "I am pleased to attend the Mega Limpieza II and lend our foundation's support to this important effort."
On Saturday, volunteers, comprised of both private citizens and government agencies, will spread over eight different points, including two areas at Torrecillas Lagoon, three locations at San Jose Lagoon, Managua (a small lake near Torecilla), Suarez Canal, Dones Park, Areas of Piñones and below the Cangrejos bridge where a group of scuba divers will be diving to remove both trash and lionfish, a non-native species that feeds heavily on juvenile species of sportfish.
The clean-up will run from 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. A luncheon and educational activities will be taking place at the facilities of Cangrejo's Yatch Club from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., including demonstrations of how to properly handle and cook lionfish and interactive games for children.
About Guy Harvey
Guy Harvey is a marine wildlife artist and conservationist who earned a Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology. His depictions of marine life, especially of sportfish such as marlin, are very popular with sport fishermen and have been reproduced in prints, posters, t-shirts, jewelry, clothing, and other consumer items. Harvey is also a very vocal and active advocate for marine conservation, having established the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University of Fort Lauderdale, Florida as well as the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, an organization that funds marine conservation research and educational initiatives.
About Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is a leader in international efforts to protect our oceans and marine environments. The GHOF advocates for sustainable fishing practices, funds inspired scientific research and supports innovative educational programs. Our principle objective is to help ensure that future generations will enjoy and benefit from a naturally balanced ocean ecosystem where fish and other marine wildlife flourish. GHOF has led or assisted include the establishment of a shark sanctuary in Bahamian federal waters, the addition of five species of sharks to Florida's protected list and the enactment of the U.S. Billfish Conservation Act. In the fall of 2012, the GHOF led a petition drive in support of the National Conservation Law in the Cayman Islands. The GHOF also assisted the launch of the first catch-and-release fishing tournament in Venezuela.
About Pesca, Playa y Ambiente, Inc.
Pesca, Playa y Ambiente (PPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of marine resources through education and field activities. PPA's goal is to carry out at least two annual massive cleanup activities around the island, to establish effective links with foundations with similar objectives in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the United States, as well as with citizens and entities of government and venture into conservation projects which at the moment are in preliminary stages.