For Immediate Release - September 09, 2011

Environmental Officials Celebrate the 24th Anniversary of COASTSWEEP

For a list of COASTSWEEP cleanup sites

BOSTON - September 9, 2011 - Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) officials today kicked off the 24th Annual COASTSWEEP, an a volunteer program organized by EEA's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the UMass Boston Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) to clean up trash from the Commonwealth's beaches, river banks and seafloor during the months of September and October.

Over the past 23 years, thousands of volunteers have participated in the effort along the Massachusetts shore. Last year alone, 3,000 COASTSWEEP volunteers removed more than 20,406 pounds of trash - most of which was land-based refuse carried to the shore by wind or rain.

"This event is a great reminder of the importance of our coastal resources and the responsibility we all share in keeping these habitats and recreational areas clean," said EEA Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "I commend the hard-working and committed volunteers who turn out each year to do their part."

In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record information about what they collect. The data obtained from each cleanup is fed into an international marine debris database maintained by Ocean Conservancy's international coastal cleanup program. This information is used to promote better understanding about the sources of marine debris globally and to develop solutions for prevention.

"The annual COASTSWEEP is a great way to both engage people in the hands-on cleanup of our coastline and increase public awareness of the problems and hazards of trash and marine debris, which can pose serious threats to coastal animals and human health," said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. "Seabirds can become entangled in fishing line and six-pack holders and sea turtles may swallow plastic bags, balloons and other items that they mistake for food."

In addition to participating in a COASTSWEEP cleanup, there are several everyday steps residents can taketo prevent trash from becoming marine debris: secure trash bins; recycle; use reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and coffee mugs; and refrain from littering. Cigarette butts continue to be the most numerous items found during annual COASTSWEEP cleanups - in the last five years alone, volunteers have picked up nearly 170,000 of them.

This year's COASTSWEEP cleanups are scheduled throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities.

COASTSWEEP is always looking for more volunteers and coordinators. To find a cleanup near you or to learn how to start your own cleanup, call (617) 287-5570, visit www.coastsweep.umb.edu, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/COASTSWEEP.

COASTSWEEP is part of Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, with cleanups happening all around the world this fall. In addition to EEA, CZM, and UHI, COASTSWEEP 2011 sponsors include the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Weston Solutions, RBC Capital Markets, and Bisnar/Chase.