Annual Coastal Cleanup Drive Kicks Off
September 15, 2011
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) officials have kicked off the 24th Annual COASTSWEEP, 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 it land-based refuse carried to the shore by wind or rain.
In addition to 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 6-pack holders and sea turtles may swallow plastic bags, balloons and other items that they mistake for food.”
This year’s COASTSWEEP cleanups are scheduled throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities.