For Immediate Release - September 04, 2013

Patrick Administration Kicks Off the 26th Annual COASTSWEEP Beach Cleanup

State officials encourage all to come out and help clean up the Massachusetts coastline

BOSTON – Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced the start of the 26th annual COASTSWEEP, the state’s volunteer beach cleanup organized by EEA's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

Since 1987, thousands of COASTSWEEP volunteers have removed hundreds of tons of marine debris such as trash, fishing line and other human-made items and recorded what was collected. State environmental officials are asking for volunteers to help clean up the coast throughout September and October.

“I encourage all Commonwealth citizens to get involved by joining a scheduled cleanup or organizing their own at their favorite beach," said Secretary Sullivan. “I would like to thank the thousands of hard-working and committed volunteers who have turned out for the last 25 COASTSWEEP cleanups for doing their part to keep our state’s beaches and coastlines clean.”

COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record what they collect. The information recorded by participants all over the world is used to identify sources of debris globally and develop solutions for prevention.

"Since it began in 1987, COASTSWEEP has grown tremendously and I’m proud that we have been able to work with dedicated local volunteers to remove literally tons of trash from the shoreline," said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. “These efforts not only make our shoreline more beautiful, they help keep the coastal environment safe for humans and marine animals.”

Trash and other marine debris can directly harm sea life and humans. Sea birds, seals and other animals can be choked, starved or poisoned when they become entangled or mistake debris for food. Sea turtles are particularly vulnerable and can die after swallowing clear plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. Beachgoers can injure themselves on glass, wood or metal while swimming or walking on the sand, and boaters can become stranded when propellers are jammed with fishing line or cooling intakes are clogged with plastic.

In addition to participating in a COASTSWEEP cleanup, there are several steps that people can take to prevent trash from becoming marine debris: secure trash bins, recycle, use reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee mugs and refrain from littering.

In addition to annual COASTSWEEP participation, the Patrick Administration has shown its commitment to the Commonwealth’s bays, beaches and coastlines in several ways. CZM offers a Coastal Pollution Remediation (CPR) grant program that will provide up to $400,000 to Massachusetts Coastal Watershed municipalities to assess and remediate stormwater pollution from paved surfaces as well as to design and construct commercial boat waste pumpout facilities. In addition, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) also offers facilities improvements like trash and recycling bins at many DCR properties.

Cleanups are held throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities. To join a cleanup or organize your own, check out the COASTSWEEP website at www.mass.gov/czm/coastsweep or call (617) 626-1200. To find a cleanup site near you, check out a list of 2013 COASTSWEEP cleanup sites. Organizing a cleanup is easy. All cleanup supplies such as bags, gloves, data cards and pencils are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience.

For more information, see www.mass.gov/czm/coastsweep or become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/COASTSWEEP and follow COASTSWEEP and marine debris issues on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coastsweep.

COASTSWEEP is part of Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, which works with communities all around the world to help address marine debris. In addition to EEA and CZM, COASTSWEEP 2013 sponsors include the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Tronex and the New Bedford Ocean Explorium.