SANDY HOOK–Clean Ocean Action (COA) released the 2012 Beach Sweeps Report this week, highlighting the Dirty Dozen, Roster of the Ridiculous, and the totals for over 90 items of marine debris collected by volunteers last year. To view the Beach Sweeps Report online, visit www.cleanoceanaction.org.
In 2012, 6,926 volunteers collected, tallied, and removed over 350,000 pieces of debris from NJ’s shoreline during Clean Ocean Action’s 27th Annual Beach Sweeps. The majority of the debris removed was disposable plastics—items designed to be used once and thrown away. Plastic, including foam, represents 82.7% of the total waste found. It is clear: disposable plastic items continue to litter beaches, threaten marine life, and impact water quality.
The Beach Sweeps has become New Jersey’s largest environmental event with thousands of citizens combing nearly all 127 miles ocean coastline and bay beaches. The spring event coincides with Earth Month to provide citizens with an educational, hands-on, meaningful, rewarding activity to make a real difference.
During these 28 years, over 100,000 citizens have collected over 5 million items, tabulated data, and created a legacy of information that is used to fight for better anti-litter programs and educate people about the harms caused by marine debris to the economy and wildlife.
Key to the program’s success is the Beach Captains that lead each of the Beach Sweeps locations. These dedicated volunteers manage the activities.
“Unfortunately, many of our Beach Captains were affected by Superstorm Sandy and were not able to return the volunteer collected data from the Fall Beach Sweeps. The numbers reflected in this year’s report, especially from the fall, should be considered conservative,” commented Tavia Danch, Clean Ocean Action Program Manager. “On a brighter note, COA volunteers were able to remove nearly 148,000 pieces of debris before Sandy hit our coasts,” added Danch.
“Beach Sweeps has become a tradition for the tall and the small to give back to their ocean, take a stand against litter, and rid the shores of marine debris. Over the years the list of items has changed and shifted, however what remains constant is the Jersey Pride people have for the real Jersey Shore and their commitment to improve the environment,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “This year is like no other. Our beaches have been profoundly altered by Superstorm Sandy. Dunes and dune grasses are gone. Large debris has piled up along the shorelines and is in our waterways. How these may impact Beach Sweeps may provide some interesting and valuable insights,” added Zipf.
“Beach Sweeps allows people who don’t visit beaches often to enjoy all that they have to offer. Volunteers can see marine life, like the turtles that pop up often near the Highlands Bridge, and see historical places like Sandy Hook,” remarked Peter Donnelly, Middle School Student & Beach Sweeps Volunteer Beach Captain. “Once at my beach, Union Beach, I dug out a huge anchor almost the same size as me,” he exclaimed.
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