As a part of our dive briefing, we always ask our divers to pick up any trash they find, and to hand over sunglasses, wallets and anything of value over to their dive guides! More often than not, we get goodies, but occasionally, they pick up trash as this bay is really, really clean. Not as clean as it could be, but compared to other dive destinations, I am getting happier by the day. There is an a bill being passed at the moment to stop the use of Styrofoam being used by all sellers that will see a marked difference, but along with this bill, people are being educated as to why this product should not be used.
All too often we pick up garbage that is carelessly tossed into the ocean. Plastic water bottles, beer cans and bottles, food trays and cigarette butts are the most common culprit, along with fishing line, lures and lead fishing weights. I am not on a rant, but I find these items all too regularly at Los Arcos, which incidentally is a marine park where fishing is not allowed.
All in all though, I have never filled my little pocket up during the course of any dive. That being said, any trash in the ocean is not good. The reason for the bay being in such good condition is mainly due to the education of the locals by the locals. Many people in the area rely on fishing for their livelihoods, and therefore understand that they cannot pollute the water with trash of any sort. Most of the damage therefore is done by people from out of town who do not understand the ocean and throw things on the floor. As Vallarta is at sea level, a majority of this gets washed straight into the rivers and consequently into the bay.
One local bar called Que Pasa has a great project that they run all year round called Brigada de la Basura, where the neighborhood children collect trash from the streets and the river every Saturday morning. The children are rewarded with lunch, drinks, a few days out and a t shirt. These children are getting and giving a huge education really though. I doubt they ever throw anything on the floor, and I doubt their families do either. I for one salute this project as children like this will hold the earth’s future in their hands. Another ex patriot bar owner, Lydia, from Uncommon Ground, placed plastic bottle banks around town, and has them emptied and recycled on a regular basis.
Apart from these good projects, I have seen local street vendors doing some ingenious recycling, making souvenirs out of tin cans, paper and plastic. Maybe another man’s trash really is another man’s treasure!
This incredible bay holds many people’s livelihoods in its hands, including mine, so please treat it with the respect that it deserves.