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COASTSWEEP, the statewide coastal cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Volunteers from all over the world collect marine debris and record what they find. The data is used to identify sources of marine debris and develop education and policy initiatives to help reduce it.
The information below gives an overview of the marine debris problem. For a full list of all of the information available on the COASTSWEEP website, see Overview and Index.
Marine debris is any man-made, solid material that enters coastal and ocean waters directly (e.g., by dumping) or indirectly (e.g., washed out to sea via rivers, streams, storm drains, etc.). (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Trash Free Waters website).
Marine debris comes from both the land and the sea. Trash can be carried to the ocean from land by water, wind, and people. For example, trash from poorly secured garbage cans can ride a gust of wind or be caught up in stormwater runoff and find its way to the sea. Other items are accidentally or deliberately discharged at sea. (Source: EPA Trash Free Waters website).
The problems associated with marine debris extend well beyond aesthetics.
There are many ways that you can help reduce marine debris: