Ocean pollution awareness raised

After picking up 3 000 pieces of plastic, some of which were dug from deep out of drains, James Wreyford, founder of Hout Bay Harbour Clean Up doesn’t have a doubt that ocean pollution is a real problem.

On Sunday January 27, Hout Bay Harbour Clean Up teamed up with triathlete, Laura Paarman, and physically challenged ex-Special Forces member, Bernie Manzonie, to raise awareness about ocean pollution inside the harbour.

The two were set to swim across Hout Bay from the Bronze Leopard to Mariner’s Wharf, but the swim did not happen due to extremely low water temperatures.

“We were going to swim across the bay to create awareness for plastic that are being thrown into our oceans, but it was too cold to swim. We would have ended up with hyperthermia,” said Ms Paarman.

“We will carry on and do this another time. We just wanted to make people aware that they are destroying our ocean. We will not have much of a future if we keep doing this and we’ll soon be drowning in our own plastic,” she said.

Mr Wreyford, 40, a resident of Hout Bay, said the event was aimed at schools, businesses and locals in the area to help stop the ocean pollution.

He added that since their initial clean-up in August last year, they had removed over a ton of plastic from the ocean during their water-based clean-up patrols; while on Saturday mornings they easily fill up anything from 20 to 70 refuse bags in their land-based clean-ups.

“We pick up hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic bottles. What is also very common are chip packets, earbuds, used condoms, cigarette butts, fishing ropes, bait boxes and oil cans.

“The harbour has such a diverse community so the source of the waste varies from the locals to tourists, boat operators and businesses,” said Mr Wreyford.

“We are also aiming to get Hout Bay Blue Flag status and working towards this will solve a lot of the issues inside the harbour.

“Of course, there are spin-offs to this in terms of tourism which is great, but the management of the waste is the biggest thing we can achieve,” he said.

Mr Wreyford, who has been living in Hout Bay for the past two years, said this project was something that needed to be started because of the kind of waste that had been landing up in the ocean which is visible in the harbour.

“I went out to sea and saw three whales breaching about 16 times in front of us and when I came back into the harbour I saw an absolute mess laying inside of the harbour.

“From there, it was clear that we had a major problem and if we didn’t do anything about it now, it would just get worse,” said Mr Wreyford.

“I then put out a Facebook message to Hout Bay Organised and we got an amazing response from volunteers who pitched up.

“We started a water-based clean-up with pool nets and it was very effective. We pulled in about three or four bags of plastic and wondered what would have happened if we didn’t do this,” he said.

Mr Wreyford then approached authorities in the area to formalise things and worked with volunteers in their quest to curb ocean pollution.

“Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to help in our cause and it has become a place where people can express themselves in doing a really important job.

“What one learns in getting so involved with this – after picking up 3 000 pieces of plastic and digging out of drains that’s deeper than yourself – you get to learn that what you seeing on the internet about ocean pollution is a real thing.

“I think this is our last chance to correct things because if not, we are going to lose our resources. We are going to lose the fishing industry and destroy the ocean life,” said Mr Wreyford.

If you’d like to get involved in the project, contact Mr Wreyford on 071 833 8345 or find Hout Bay Harbour Clean Up on Facebook.