On Saturday, June 18th, the GraceKennedy Foundation (GKF) and its partners mobilised volunteers to remove more than 874 pounds of waste from the shoreline adjacent to the Kingston Pen Gully in downtown Kingston. The cleanup was carried out under the Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project, which is being delivered by between GKF, The Ocean Cleanup and Clean Harbours Jamaica (CHJ) Limited and is aimed at identifying long-term solutions to the pollution of Kingston Harbour.
The team of over 60 cleanup volunteers included residents from the communities surrounding the Harbour, police officers from the Denham Town Police Station, students, and youth organisations, such as the Sligoville Police Youth Club.
“I heard about this great initiative through a friend, shared it with my group and encouraged everyone to come out and make a difference in cleaning up the Kingston Harbour,” said President of the Sligoville Police Youth Club, Clivoy Balfour, who was on site at the cleanup.
In just over two hours, the cleanup volunteers removed a wide array of garbage from the shoreline, including plastic food containers, wrappers, plastic bottles, and household furniture. While working closest to the mouth of the gully, the volunteers also observed chemical pollution along the shore, which further highlighted the seriousness of the pollution challenges in the Harbour.
The Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project has also installed interceptor barriers to trap waste at the mouths of Barnes Gully, Rae Town Gully and the Kingston Pen Gully, which are three of the eleven gullies that feed into the Harbour. Debris trapped by the barriers is then removed by The Ocean Cleanup’s small barge, known as the Interceptor Tender, and transported to an offloading site for sorting and disposal.
In addition to preventing waste from entering the Harbour through interceptor barrier technology, the project is also geared towards increasing awareness about the role of the community and individuals in combating pollution.
Caroline Mahfood, CEO of GraceKennedy Foundation, commented, “Part of why we’re doing this, besides the fact that we need to clean up the beaches, is to raise awareness about how serious the problem is. There’s so much plastic and so much waste washing up every day on our shores.”
Under the Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project, each month GKF hosts a cleanup at beaches near the mouths of the gullies targeted by the pilot. Since the beginning of the project in February 2022, volunteers have removed over 4290 pounds of waste at the cleanups. Through their partnership with The Ocean Cleanup, CHJ, several other public and private sector entities, and downtown Kingston communities, GKF is encouraging sustainable investment in a clean Kingston Harbour – a mission that requires the participation of all stakeholders.