LINCROFT – Clean Ocean Action will host a symposium against beach litter on Saturday, March 13, at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.
The symposium will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., and will be followed by a cocktail reception. It will highlight and celebrate 25 years of NJ Beach Sweep data, citizen action, steps needed for naturally clean beaches, and newly released information about the plastic pollution in the North Atlantic.
Symposium speakers will include Dr. Giora Proskurowski Ph.D., Sea Education Association’s (SEA) oceanography faculty scientist as well as Skye Moret-Ferguson, SEA’s senior assistant scientist and also an assistant with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Proskurowski and Moret-Ferguson will present key findings from 22 years of data that SEA has been collecting from the North Atlantic.
Many have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but few realize that there is a similar littered gyre in the Atlantic Ocean. Garbage patches are formed gradually when marine debris, mostly plastic, collects in locations based on winds and currents. These garbage patches pose a threat to fish, seabirds, and other marine animals that accidentally eat the litter.
Recent studies show about 80% of ocean trash is plastic – which is increasing across the globe. “Tiny bits of plastics may pose big, long-term problems in the ocean which scientists are only recently beginning to understand,” said Dr. Heather Saffert Ph.D., COA’s staff scientist. At the symposium, Saffert will explore the increasing local trend of plastic use and how we must all act together to stop plastic from entering our oceans.
Additional symposium panelists will include scientists, legislators, and citizens who will present the truth behind the COA volunteer-collected data, reveal the real harms of beach litter, as well as uncover the steps needed to reduce the problem. Confirmed speakers include: state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), state Sen. Sean Kean (R-Union), and John Weber, Surfrider Foundation’s east coast regional manager.
The symposium keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who will address how clean beaches and waterways are essential for our economy, our health, and our environment.
“Protecting and preserving the Jersey Shore and the ocean waters is an economic issue as well as an environmental issue. The activities that evolve around the Shore, such as fishing, boating, swimming and tourism, are key to the state’s economy and provide many jobs,” commented Pallone.
During the concurrent breakout sessions, participants can learn to take specific pollution prevention actions, such as how to advocate for a plastic bag ban in their community, integrate a recycling program in their local school, or have fun with Beach Sweeps data through an educational activity. The afternoon sessions will feature informative topics, including: funding sources for Sweeps and beyond, Beach Sweep educational models, how-to campaigns, and recycling problem plastics.
Register for the symposium to kick-off Beach Sweeps 25!, a year-long celebration to honor a generation of dedication and action toward a cleaner ocean. Reservations are required for this event: Adult admission $10, student rate $5, at-door $25. Breakfast, lunch, and light fare will be served.