The clean-up was conducted last week by Infrastructure Cook Islands and Pacific Divers, with sponsorship by 4Ocean, which is a global company dedicated to removing rubbish from the ocean and coastlines.
Thirty-three volunteers donated their time to tackle this growing problem.
The waste found was shocking – divers picked up 115kg from the Avarua Harbor and volunteers picked up 940kg from the Seawall, beaches between Muri and Vaimaanga and the Panama swamp.
A lot more waste was found, but still remains in our ocean and environment, some of it hazardous to our health as well as the environment.
“We are really thankful for the volunteers who came and supported the 4Ocean events on Friday and Saturday,” adds Hilary Boyes, ICI Waste Programme Coordinator on assignment with VSA. “We applied for the 4Ocean merchandise to give the cause some extra promotion and the group that came were awesome. But this issue is bigger than a group of volunteers can handle.”
“We know waste is building up in public places,” says Jaime Short, ICI WATSAN director. “We get reports and see it constantly on the roads and beaches. We communicate with the community as much as we can on TV, newspaper, community events, and through social media.
“The problem is still there and we, as a community, need to take ownership and do something about it. Waste is a growing issue in Rarotonga that we really need to tackle.”
This event highlights the extent of illegal dumping and the amount of waste in our ocean, the ministry says. There is a free road side rubbish collection programme around the island and there is no need to keep dumping rubbish in public places.
“It’s very simple,” adds Short, “take it home with you to properly dispose of in your bins ready for collection day.
“We have an exciting opportunity here in the Cook Islands to really show how it can be done. Please talk to your family and friends and lets all start taking ownership of our waste.
“This issue requires a whole community response.”