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San Juan Estuary clean-up campaign scheduled to launch Saturday

by John Bell on 12 Mar 2013
San Juan Bay Estuary - Mega Limpieza Del Estuario De La Bahia De San Juan Courtesy US EPA
Inspired by an editorial in a U.S.-based magazine, dozens of volunteers using a flotilla of kayaks and boats will launch a massive clean-up effort Saturday, March 16 of one of the most beautiful bodies of water on earth— the San Juan estuary, comprised of a series of lagoons and lakes near San Juan Puerto Rico.

The volunteers, comprised of both priviate citizens and government agencies, will spread over areas under the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Loíza, San Juan and Carolina and will be departing from five different areas. The clean-up will run from 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. An educational activity will be taking place at the facilities of Cangrejo’s Yatch Club from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

'This cleanup is a clear example of how citizens and government can work together in pro of the environment,' said Israel Umpierre, president of the movement Mega Limpieza del Estuario de la Bahía de San Juan, and founder of the Facebook group Pesca, Playa y Ambiente. 'This event will also bring a unique opportunity for citizens to interact with all the species that inhabit the mangroves. At the end, our objective is to create conscience, among citizens and government, about the importance of protecting this unique resource for present a future generations.'

The event has drawn the support of the media and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), a leader in international efforts to protect our oceans and marine environments. The clean-up process will be filmed by several television programs, which include, 'En Ruta por', 'Náutica TV', Univisión, and 'Pescando en los Cayos' (TV Show and a YouTube Channel). Also members of the written press, among which are: Sport Fishing Magazine, Náutica magazine and La Regatta newspaper.

This initiative was originated after Doug Olander, editor of Sport Fishing Magazine, recently visited Puerto Rico and published an article in which he recognized the excellent conditions for fishing and the natural beauty of the lagoons that make up the estuary. In his article, he emphasized how fortunate Puerto Ricans are in having some urban lakes five minutes from the International Airport. He revealed in his editorial the huge amounts of garbage and solid waste observed in the shores of the lagoons and between the roots of the mangroves. Likewise, he encouraged both the government and the citizens to take action in the conservation of this valuable resource.

From this challenge, an initiative emergered through social networking sites, 'Pesca, Playa y Ambiente' and 'Kayakeros del Este.' Members joined forces and 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 Enfironmental Quality Board and Solid Waste Authority (SWA).

'The Sports and Recreation Department is committed to this initiative, as well as with the protection of the environment and preservation of quality of waters, were recreational fishing and other related sports are practiced. The objective of the Department is to serve as a facilitators in all activities that involve recreation and wellbeing of our people', said Ramón Orta, Secretary of the SRD.
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