Governor Charlie Baker and Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton are encouraging all Massachusetts residents to volunteer with COASTSWEEP to help remove marine debris at dozens of cleanups along the coast this fall. Organized by the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), COASTWEEP starts this week and will be held throughout September and October. Since 1987, thousands of volunteers at this event have removed hundreds of tons of debris from Massachusetts beaches, lakes, rivers and seafloor.\n\n\u201cWith more than 1,500 miles of coastline, the Commonwealth\u2019s beaches, shorelines and harbors provide vast recreational opportunities, economic benefits and natural resources,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker.\u00a0 \u201cThe annual COASTSWEEP clean-up provides a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to roll up their sleeves, help clean a local beach, and keep the Bay State beautiful.\u201d\n\n\u201cCOASTSWEEP is a great way for people to show their appreciation and care for the Commonwealth\u2019s coast after a spectacular summer, and I\u2019d like to encourage everyone to get involved in a clean-up or organize their own,\u201d said EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cI\u2019d also like to personally thank the thousands of dedicated volunteers who continue to turn out every year since 1987, rain or shine, to do their part for Bay State beaches and other areas of the shoreline.\u201d\n\nCOASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by Ocean Conservancy, which draws hundreds of thousands of volunteers to coastal cleanups in more than 90 countries worldwide. In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record data about what they find. This information is fed into Ocean Conservancy\u2019s international marine debris database, where it helps researchers and policymakers better understand the sources of global marine debris and develop solutions for prevention.\n\n\u201cTrash and marine debris have serious impacts on our oceans and waterways from harming marine life to reducing the quality of our recreational activities,\u201d said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. \u201cMuch of the trash collected during COASTSWEEP comes from litter on our streets, which washes into storm drains and out to the sea. In addition to being part of the cleanup solution through COASTSWEEP, we can all make a difference by properly disposing of litter all year long.\u201d\n\nFrom plastics as tiny as a grain of rice to trash as large as abandoned cars, marine debris is more than just an eyesore; it can also directly harm humans and sea life. 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, which look like their favorite food, jellyfish. Beachgoers can injure themselves on glass, wood or metal while walking on the sand or swimming off the coast, and boaters can find themselves stranded when propellers are jammed with fishing line, or cooling intakes are clogged with plastic.\n\nIn addition to participating in a COASTSWEEP cleanup, there are several steps that people can take to prevent trash from becoming marine debris. Over half of marine debris originates on land, so if you secure trash bins; recycle; use reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee mugs; and refrain from littering, you\u2019re already taking big steps towards trash-free seas.\u00a0\n\nVolunteers are encouraged to organize their own cleanups. All cleanup supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience. To join a cleanup or organize your own, check out the COASTSWEEP website or call (617) 626-1200.\n\nYou can also become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook at facebook.com/COASTSWEEP or follow COASTSWEEP and marine debris issues on Twitter at twitter.com/coastsweep and Instagram at instagram.com/coastsweep/.\n\nCOASTSWEEP sponsors for 2015 are CZM, EEA, Ocean Conservancy, Department of Conservation and Recreation, New England Aquarium, and Tronex.