Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 02, 2020 (SKNIS): Plastic pollution can greatly destroy the marine biodiversity of St. Kitts and Nevis, says Diannille Taylor-Williams, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Chairperson of the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, while appearing on “Working for You” on Wednesday, July 01, 2020.
Mrs. Taylor-Williams used the example of the sea turtles that nest on both islands. She said that turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish.
“What happens to them is that the plastic gets stuck inside of them. It gives them the false feeling that they are full and so they might not feed or on the other hand they are hungry, but because their stomachs are jammed full of plastics, they are very hungry, but there is no space for the food to get down into their bodies. Their body cannot absorb the plastic so they suffocate and die,” she said.
She noted that other animals such as crabs have bottle caps on their heads. Other marine animals get caught in the plastic rings that hold soda can together. They subsequently suffocate. “Birds suffocate from the amount of plastics they consume from our beaches,” said the Assistant Secretary.
Mrs. Taylor-Williams stated that when persons come to St. Kitts to snorkel and dive, they want to see what the country’s marine environment has to offer.
“The turtles are known as the lawn mowers or the sheep of the reef. The turtles keep the reef free of all the algae, because that is what they usually consume besides the jellyfish, they keep it at a manageable level. If they are unable to eat, or if the number of turtles we have have lessened and last year we got some really shocking information from one of our partners in the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council,” she said.
“One of our partners is the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, what they pointed out to us is that there was a drastically low number of leatherbacks coming to nest on St. Kitts last year as compared to 10 years previously. If you have less of these turtles available to keep our reefs clean, the green and the hawksbill turtles, it means that the reefs can become overrun.”
She noted that if the reefs become overrun, the young fish will not have an opportunity to thrive and they will die.
“So, now our fish supply will be reduced. If our turtles die out we will be telling people pretty soon that we used to have this species of turtles and children will not know what you are talking about because they would have died out. So we have those issues where you kill the fish stock, you kill out some of the other animals within the marine environment, there is an over growth of algae, which is not natural because there is a balance,” said Mrs. Taylor-Williams.
The Assistant Secretary said that sustainability is finding that balance between the people, the planet and profits or livelihoods.
“If there is not that balance, things are going to be out of whack and there is going to have to be some adjustment,” she said.