Patrick-Murray Administration Officials Join Volunteers to Kick Off Annual Statewide Beach Cleanup
The 23 rd annual Massachusetts beach cleanup - organized by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) of UMass Boston - brings together thousands of volunteers to help remove trash from the Commonwealth's beaches throughout September and October. Volunteers gathered today at beaches up and down the Massachusetts coastline, along river banks and even at some lake shore locations to collect debris including plastic bags, cigarette butts and discarded fishing line that can harm turtles, birds and other marine wildlife.
"Each year thousands of dedicated volunteers do their part to keep our recreational areas clean and to protect wildlife habitat by spending a few hours or a whole day removing tons of trash from Massachusetts beaches," said EEA Secretary Ian Bowles. "I applaud their efforts and hope their example of environmental stewardship inspires others."
In 2009, more than 2,200 volunteers removed 22,670 pounds of trash - most carried to the coast from land-based sources by wind or rain. Among the debris removed from cleanup sites were approximately 4,700 pieces of rope, 5,058 plastic bottles and 6,398 plastic bags. Cigarette butts were again the most numerous item found, with more than 31,674 collected.
"In addition to celebrating the start of COASTSWEEP, this kickoff will recognize a group of volunteers who have adopted scores of beaches on the North Shore as part of Salem Sound Coastwatch's Adopt a Beach program," said EEA Assistant Secretary of Ocean and Coastal Zone Management Deerin Babb-Brott. "We'd all like to thank them for the tremendous difference they've made on the North Shore."
"These volunteers deserve our utmost respect and thanks for the work they put into this project, collecting and documenting tons of litter and debris, helping us understand where it comes from and possibly preventing it in the future," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "This is a wonderful, much-appreciated volunteer effort to clean our coastline and DCR is happy to once again partner with CZM on this effort."
Last spring, Salem Sound Coastwatch, an environmental organization that works to keep North Shore's beaches and coastal waters clean and healthy, recruited teams of community volunteers to serve as year-round beachkeepers through their Adopt-a-Beach program. These volunteers are trained to identify and monitor sources of contamination, identify invasive species, observe conditions such as erosion and sedimentation and clean up trash and debris at their adopted beaches.
"We were astounded by the number of people who wanted to participate in this program," said Barbara Warren, Executive Director of Salem Sound Coastwatch. "The Adopt-a-Beach volunteers are a committed group who really care. They are willing to go out and clean up after others because they know how important it is to get the trash off the beach before it becomes marine debris, polluting our oceans and killing and maiming birds and marine wildlife."
In addition to collecting trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record what they find on special data cards, which are then collected and entered into an international database maintained by the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup program. This information is used to better understand the sources of marine debris and to develop solutions for prevention.
This year's efforts feature cleanups scheduled throughout September and October at more than 70 sites - with more sites being added - covering the entire coast, including an expanded number of DCR properties. In addition to participating in a COASTSWEEP cleanup, there are several steps citizens can take to prevent trash from becoming marine debris, including securing trash bins, making sure to recycle, using reusable shopping bags, and refraining from littering.
COASTSWEEP is part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, with cleanups happening today all around the world.
"Trash is one of the most widespread pollution problems threatening our ocean and waterways---yet it's entirely preventable. It's time for action," said Sonya Besteiro, Associate Director of Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. "In the span of 25 years, the International Coastal Cleanup expanded to include hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world. The unwavering dedication over the years from volunteers that participate in COASTSWEEP and around the world has helped to make the environment safer for wildlife and people alike."
To find a cleanup near you or to learn how to start your own cleanup, call (617) 287-5570 or visit www.coastsweep.umb.edu.
COASTSWEEP sponsors also include the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, Ocean Conservancy, Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, Weston Solutions Inc., Cape Cod Potato Chips, Dunkin' Donuts, and Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach.
"The Friends are always willing to lend a hand in support of cleaner beaches," said Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach Board Member Michael Celona. "It is by building partnerships with state agencies like DCR and non-profit organizations like Salem Sound Coastwatch that the Friends will reach their goal of clean and vibrant beaches. Working together to rid the beach of marine debris is but one example of these important efforts."
The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is the agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs charged with protecting the state's approximately 1,500-mile coast. Through educational and regulatory programs, CZM seeks to balance human uses of the coastal zone with the need to protect fragile marine resources. The agency's work includes helping coastal communities anticipate and plan for sea level rise and other effects of climate change, working with cities and towns and the federal government to develop boat sewage no-discharge areas and partnering with communities and other organizations to restore coastal and aquatic habitats.