03 Jul 2017
(MVA) — Participants in the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Beautify My Marianas program have collected over 20,000 lbs. of garbage in the last eight months, prompting the tourism authority to call for stricter enforcement of anti-littering laws.
“The amount of garbage being thrown at our public parks, beaches and roadways is just ridiculous. People have been talking for years about enforcement, but for the most part, not much is being done,” said MVA Managing Director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Something has to change.”
Since the beginning of the fiscal year, 244 groups have joined the MVA in their destination enhancement efforts by picking up trash at designated locations. Over the same period, the groups have collectively amassed 20,290 lbs. of trash.
In Feb. 2017, 63 new litter-control or apprehending officers from seven different agencies were certified by the Division of Environmental Quality, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Safety to enforce the Litter Control Act of 1989, as amended by P.L. 19-53.
While citations have since been issued for a number of illegal dumping violations, MVA says everyday beachgoers leaving their trash at the beach also have to start being held accountable.
“We promote ourselves as a pristine and beautiful destination, but continue to allow our islands to be trashed on a daily basis. We need to get serious about enforcing our anti-littering laws. We trust that our enforcement agencies are able to beef up their efforts massively because this type of image ruins all the progress we’ve made the past few years. We know that the vast majority of litter is found during and after weekends at public parks or beaches which are frequented heavily by local residents. We ask that everyone pack up their trash and properly dispose of it in an approved waste bin. Do not leave your trash behind!” said Concepcion.
Under Public Law 19-53 any person found to have committed littering shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $5,000. The law states apprehending officers are from Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Department of Public Safety, Department of Public Health, Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Department of Public Lands, Department of Public Works, Commonwealth Zoning Office, and the Office of the Mayor.
The Beautify My Marianas has been on-going for several years, allowing the community to support tourism while raising funds by being compensated by the MVA. Concepcion added that with proper enforcement of anti-littering laws, the program would turn its efforts toward tree- planting, painting of public areas, or other beautification projects.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/96531-beautify-my-marianas-collects-10-tons-of-garbage-in-8-months