August 24, 2016 \u2013 Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today joined local officials, campers, interns and volunteers from the Cape Ann YMCA and Maritime Gloucester at Gloucester\u2019s Stage Fort Park to kick off COASTSWEEP. Started in 1987, COASTSWEEP is a statewide effort organized by EEA\u2019s Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) where thousands of volunteers clean up trash from the Commonwealth\u0027s beaches, river banks, marshes and seafloor.\n\n\u201cCOASTSWEEP is a yearly effort which reminds residents from all corners of the Commonwealth how important it is to care for our natural resources,\u201d said Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cI applaud the efforts of the Office of Coastal Zone Management, and encourage individuals and families to volunteer in their hometown to ensure that Massachusetts\u2019 natural splendor will continue for years to come.\u201d\n\nAs part of the Ocean Conservancy\u2019s International Coastal Cleanup, COASTSWEEP participants join hundreds of thousands of other volunteers each year in the world\u2019s largest volunteer effort for the ocean. COASTSWEEP cleanups are planned at close to 40 Massachusetts locations from late August through November, with additional cleanups being added weekly. In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record information about what they collect. The data collected at each cleanup is entered into an international marine debris database maintained by the Ocean Conservancy. This information is used to better understand the sources of marine debris globally and develop solutions for prevention.\n\n\u201cThe Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is proud to have organized COASTSWEEP for the last 30 years,\u201d said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. \u201cLiterally hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours have been spent to help clean up the coast during that time, making our coastal areas cleaner and safer for wildlife and everyone who enjoys time at the shoreline and on the water.\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\nCOASTSWEEP participants can volunteer for an existing cleanup or organize a cleanup of their own. All cleanup supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled any time through November. To join or organize a cleanup, check out the COASTSWEEP website or call (617) 626-1200. You can also become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook or follow COASTSWEEP on Twitter and Instagram.\n\nThe Massachusetts Office Coastal Zone Management is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency\u2019s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.