Waste sea between Honduras and Guatemala

The gigantic layer of contamination, contains dead animals, hospital waste, clothes, cans, glass, plastics among other types of waste
On October, Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of waste - Photo: Courtesy of Caroline Power Photography
José Meléndez / corresponsal
San José
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Environmentalists from Guatemala and Honduras warned that the rubbish dump, which has been floating for more than a decade between Honduran and Guatemalan waters over the Caribbean Sea, affects the socio-economic life of coastal communities in both countries.

The gigantic layer of contamination, containing dead animals, hospital waste, clothes, cans, glass, plastics among other types of waste, is threatening the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world, extending from Mexico to Colombia in Caribbean waters.

Garbage is dragged into the sea by the Motagua river and other minor river sources on the Caribbean side. The Motagua river rises in the western highlands of Guatemala and runs in an easterly direction to the Gulf of Honduras into the Caribbean.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Juan Carlos Rivera, General Director of the Merchant Navy of the Ministry of Defense of Honduras (Marina Mercante del Ministerio de Defensa de Honduras), assures that "it is impossible to quantify the tons of floating garbage because of the large amount of garbage that sinks into the sea. On the surface you can only see the solid waste suspended in the water, but the real problem is the microplastic that fish eat and that ends up being consumed by humans," adding that "it will be necessary to analyze the water quality, sediment, subsoil, and the fish" to have a better understanding of the pollution in the water.

The case gain visibility in October after the British photographer Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of waste along Roatan, a small island in the Caribbean near the northern coast of Honduras.

"We can not hide our problem with garbage. We need to fix it before it gets worse," Power told EL UNIVERSAL.

For Rivera, the only solution is by raising awareness while cleaning the pollution in the sea, the beaches and, in the long term, the Motagua river, "but it is a short-term problem and it is right here," he concluded.


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