Started in 1987, COASTSWEEP is a statewide effort organized by the Mass. Energy and Environmental Affairs Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) where thousands of volunteers clean up trash from the Commonwealth’s beaches, river banks, marshes and seafloor.
As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, COASTSWEEP participants join hundreds of thousands of other volunteers each year in the world’s largest volunteer effort for the ocean. COASTSWEEP cleanups are planned at close to 40 Mass. locations from 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.
From 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.
COASTSWEEP 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 (http://www.mass.gov/eea/ agencies/czm/program-areas/communications/ coastsweep/) or call (617) 626-1200. You can also become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook or follow COASTSWEEP on Twitter and Instagram.
Local COASTSWEEP cleanups planned, include:
• Sept. 3: East Beach, New Bedford. Contact Holly Williams, holly. email@example.com, 757-773-5627
• Sept. 17: Ft. Phoenix Town Beach, Fairhaven. Contact Mary Lou Nicholson, 508-496-0708, BeThe SolutionToPollution@gmail.com
The 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’s 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.