Barkers gets spruced up 
for kitesurfers

In preparation for a kitesurfing competition next week, 50 volunteers took part in a huge cleanup effort at Barkers Beach over the weekend. 

The Rock International Open, a nonprofit organization also known as TRIO, rounded up volunteers who collected more than 30 bags of litter over a 2-mile stretch of beach in a bid to ensure the beach is clean for Cayman’s first international kitesurfing contest Wednesday.  

They scoured the beach and its inland pathways and removed plastic items, bottles, shoes and bags. 

Barkers has become a popular destination for kitesurfers due to the constant trade winds in the area.  

“Barkers is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Cayman Islands,” said TRIO event director Derek Serpell. “As kitesurfers, we take advantage of the consistent trade winds which allow us to practice our sport in this wonderful environment, but we must never forget that we are sharing the location with the turtles, and do our best to protect them.” 

Barkers beach is a popular turtle-nesting site, and to support Cayman’s environment, TRIO will donate proceeds from the event to the Department of Environment’s turtle protection program. 

“It was great to see kitesurfers, beach users, and environmental lovers getting together and giving something back to the local community by cleaning up Barkers Beach,” said Mr. Serpell, who organized Saturday’s beach cleanup. 
“Volunteers worked hard over the weekend to remove seaweed and burrs from the beach to allow spectators to walk amongst the trees and sit in the shade whilst enjoying the competition,” said Damian Davis, site manager for TRIO. 

Ongoing problem 

Although the beach looks clean following the recent cleanup, garbage washing up from the sea, or being dumped there by visitors or residents, are regular occurrences.  

West Bay tourism business operator Paul Rivers said that although the beach has seen many cleanups, it is an uphill battle to keep the trash away. 

“You could sweep it today and by night the trash will wash back up. The trash isn’t as bad as it was, but it is continuously worsening, especially near the national park. It needs some serious attention,” Mr. Rivers said.  

‘It’s like riding through a landfill’ 

Rivers said sometimes he is embarrassed to take tourists along Barkers beach for his Spirit of the West horseback riding tours. “It’s embarrassing for me to take the tourists through the trash. Hypodermic needles, shoes, you name it, it washes up there. It’s like riding through a landfill, to be honest.” 

Out of frustration with the ongoing problem, he is looking at beach-cleaning machines. However, the investment would be costly. Mr. Rivers believes that a regular debris management program needs to be in place to combat the ocean trash.  

“We need to have some kind of continuous clean-up program. The only long-term solution I see is a beach sweeping machine.  

“I’m in the process now of looking into a beach sweeping machine. There are a few companies who offer them. Maybe the machine can be run by government. [The Department of Environmental Health] has its own beach sweeper, but Barkers needs a beach sweeper to stay there,” he said. 

Barkers has become a popular destination for kitesurfers due to the constant trade winds in the area.  

The Rock International Open

Dozens of volunteers clean up Barkers Beach in preparation for Cayman’s first international kitesurfing competition.

jhon mora     flag women  22  june  13 072

Kitesurfing has taken off at Barkers. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD