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CoastSweep volunteers pick up trash, debris on beaches

The Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs today announced the start of the 26th annual CoastSweep, the state’s volunteer beach cleanup.

Photo via newenglandboating.com Credit: newenglandboating.com

The Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs today announced the start of CoastSweep 2013, the state’s 26th annual volunteer beach cleanup.

Since 1987, thousands of CoastSweepvolunteers have removed hundreds of tons of marine debris such as trash, fishing line and other manmade items, and recorded what was collected. State environmental officials are asking for volunteers to help clean up the coast throughout September and October.

“I encourage all Commonwealth citizens to get involved by joining a scheduled cleanup or organizing their own at their favorite beach," said environmental Secretary Richard Sullivan. “I would like to thank the thousands of hardworking and committed volunteers who have turned out for the last 25 CoastSweepcleanups for doing their part to keep our state’s beaches and coastlines clean.”

The cleanup is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. In addition to removing trash, CoastSweepvolunteers record what they collect. According to organizers, the information is used to identify sources of debris globally and develop solutions for prevention.

"Since it began in 1987, CoastSweephas grown tremendously and I’m proud that we have been able to work with dedicated local volunteers to remove literally tons of trash from the shoreline," said Coastal Zone Management director Bruce Carlisle.

“These efforts not only make our shoreline more beautiful, they help keep the coastal environment safe for humans and marine animals.”

State environmental experts said trash and other marine debris can directly harm sea life and humans, including sea birds and seals. The 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 that they mistake for jellyfish, experts said, and beachgoers can injure themselves on glass, wood or metal while swimming or walking on the sand. Another threat is to boaters; vessels can become stranded when propellers are jammed with fishing line or cooling intakes are clogged with plastic.

Environmental officials said beachgoers should secure trash bins, recycle, refrain from littering, and bring reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee mugs.

The state offers a Coastal Pollution Remediation grant program that provides up to $400,000 to Massachusetts Coastal Watershed municipalities to assess and remediate stormwater pollution from paved surfaces as well as to design and construct commercial boat waste pumpout facilities.

Cleanups are held throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities. To join a cleanup, or organize one, residents can visit the CoastSweep website or call (617) 626-1200.

Cleanup supplies such as bags, gloves, data cards and pencils are provided free of charge, and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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