Plastic pollution affects much of the world's coastal areas and often significantly impairs coastal fisheries. Poor legislative and waste management capacity across many tropical countries further drives the problem.
In the coastal strip of Panama, it is common to see kilometers of plastic waste. The increase in the population of Panama City, coupled with a poor garbage collection service and a lack of public awareness has led to an inadequate management of solid waste. Many contaminants can stick to the plastic and can ultimately enter the food chain when the plastic breaks down. Research shows that birds and other biodiversity alike are consuming plastic particles of different sizes, with unknown conssequences to their long-term health. Plastic bags and other plastic products can also directly impact habitat - for instance, plastic accumulation can affect the growth of mangrove roots and propagules leading to dieoffs. Polyethylene plastic bags are composed of substances derived from oil, which take between 100 and 500 years to degrade.
Voces del Río is a 6-minute video created to address the threat of plastic pollution in Panama's streams, rivers and coasts. The issue is viewed from the perspective of two young students from the Homero Ayala Educational Center in the Juan Díaz watershed, who wonder if the river they observe in their community is polluted in its entirety. Keyti and Omar take a trip to the headwaters of the Juan Díaz River, where they discover how pristine and beautiful the river is, how well preserved the forest is and the rich biodiversity that uses it. In the final minutes of the video, the reality of the lower watershed invites us to reflect and act to support our rivers. Be a voice for your river and contribute to its conservation!