The Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine; Didier Dogley, in the company of the Honorary Consul General for the Seychelles in Germany, Mr. Max Hunzinger, visited the island of Usedom – Germany’s easternmost island in the Baltic Sea on Friday, May 17, 2019.
A duty call in the aim to witness first-hand a beach clean-up project that has already attracted international attention and thousands of volunteers.
The project was launched in 2018 by Mrs. Anika Ziegler, who was teaching tourism- related seminars to young people. Even though the beaches of Usedom — a popular destination for summer holidays — are among the cleanest in Germany, Ziegler kept picking up garbage that people had carelessly thrown away or that had been swept ashore.
Recognizing the dangers posed by marine debris and plastic waste to both local tourism and the maritime environment, Ziegler decided to take action and organize “Germany’s 1st Big Beach clean-up” on 17 May 2019.
“Everybody can do something and make a difference,” said Ms. Ziegler. “And it is not difficult at all”, she continued. The initiative received an outstanding response for participation from various volunteers.
The event was officially opened by Ms. Manuela Schwesig, Minister-President of the state of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. “I welcome the commitment of young people,” she said. She was joined by Dr. Till Backhaus, Minister for Agriculture and Environment, the Minister of Tourism and the other volunteers in the clean-up.
The international cooperation with the Seychelles started following a meeting in London between when Ms. Ziegler and Minister Dogley, where they discussed the initiative and the potential of collaborating.
Even though the islands are thousands of kilometers apart, they found that islanders from different parts of the world had many things in common — not the least of which were the oceans, which are all connected and, in fact, form one single large body of water.
On site, the Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine and former Minister of Environment emphasized in a statement on German television, Norddeutsche Rundfunk, that everybody has to understand that “we cannot use our ocean as our dumping ground and that everybody must contribute their share in keeping our seas and oceans clean and healthy. They are after all, the main providers of resources, on which we islanders depend for our livelihood, whether we are in the Baltic Sea or in the Indian Ocean.” Minister Dogley was joined by four young volunteers from the Aldabra Clean Up project, Ms. Ashley Antao and Mr. Ivan Ray Capricieuse and two others from the Oxford University.
After completing the first phase of the project on Usedom, twenty young people from Northern Germany will travel to the Seychelles in October, where they will participate with local youths in several beach clean-up initiatives on Mahé and at the same time study eco-tourism projects in the Seychelles. It has been agreed that the Government of Seychelles, the Government of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania and the Usedom Project will sign a memorandum of Understanding to officialize their collaboration.
Usedom is the second largest island in Pomerania. With an area of 445 square kilometers, it is, however, larger than all of the Seychelles islands combined, and has a population almost as large. With nearly 2,000 hours of sunshine, Usedom is one of the sunniest places in Germany. It has 42 kilometers of beach along the Baltic Sea. With nearly five million visitor nights, it is also Germany’s second most popular island destination. The major (Western) part of the island is part of the state of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania, Germany’s most popular region for domestic tourism. A small part of the island became Polish territory after World War II, but since both countries are part of the European Union, the border is nearly invisible. Usedom is located only a few hundred meters off the mainland coast and can be reached by ferry or by crossing one of two bascule bridges.