Clean Ocean Action’s Annual Fall Beach Sweeps

PHOTO: Assm. Cassagrande speaking at Beach Sweeps at Sandy Hook

SANDY HOOK, NJ  – Today, close to 3,000 volunteers hit the beaches to participate in Clean Ocean Action's 30th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps at over 65 sites from Essex County to Cape May County. Volunteers removed and catalogued each piece of debris, helping to document ongoing pollution issues. Robust crowds were reported up and down the coast. Many volunteers came as teams from local businesses, corporate and grassroots organizations, school and church groups, and families, all with personal ties to the Shore and some with decades of Sweeps participation.

“The marine life this past summer was spectacular—whales, belugas, dolphins, great whites, and more—all cruised by the coast. They are extremely vulnerable to marine debris through ingestion and entanglement. Through the Beach Sweeps, volunteers are giving back to the ocean and they are also the reason why the Beach Sweeps has been a success for the past 30 years. For residents and visitors alike, the Beach Sweeps create a real sense of community pride in the Shore’s overall marine health,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “We urge all those who volunteer to continue the conversation in their households and their community working to kick our single-use plastic habit,” continued Zipf.

The data recorded today will be combined with data collected in the spring at the April 24th Beach Sweeps, then analyzed and presented in an annual report produced by Clean Ocean Action. The Beach Sweeps annual report identifies pollution problems and educates citizens on the quantities and types of marine debris. Legislators will receive the cumulative data and use it to implement stricter litter bans and enforce laws to protect the marine environment. The 2014 Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps Annual Report can be downloaded at cleanoceanaction.org. In honor of our 30th year Clean Ocean Action will be hosting the Debris Free Sea Conference at Brookdale Community College on November 11th. This event will be a one-day symposium, highlighting the successof the Beach Sweeps program, the ocean advocates involved, and the data that has resulted. At this conference, a team of Bloomberg employees and data scientists will present their analysis of COA’s 20+ years of Beach Sweeps data. This will provide a snap-shot of the marine debris problem in New Jersey.

PHOTO: Volunteers at Brick - Windward Beach

Clean Ocean Action Beach Captains, lead volunteers who direct the entire group of participants at each Beach Sweeps location, are essential to the program’s success. They are the heart and soul of Beach Sweeps. These dedicated volunteers coordinate and manage all of the volunteers on the day of the event, answer questions from the volunteers about ocean pollution and serve as Clean Ocean Action representatives.

“This is my fourth year participating as a COA beach captain. It's so rewarding to see people from all over New Jersey join together and learn the importance of keeping our ocean clean. I look forward to another successful sweep,” Marissa Magura, Beach Captain for Brick.

Kaylie Haberstroh, Marine Academy of Science and Technology Beach Sweep Student Coordinator said “What we are doing today is part of a much larger picture overall. New Jersey's shoreline makes up only a small fraction of shorelines all over the world. Keeping our oceans clean needs to be a global effort, and I am so honored to be helping Clean Ocean Action with this event,”

“Whether a first time participant or a Sweeps veteran, today’s volunteers witnessed first-hand how their lifestyle can impact the environment downstream from where they live or work,” said Catie Tobin, Marine Science Education Coordinator. “We can only hope that this eye-opening and empowering experience translates into changed behavior so that eventually the Beach Sweeps are no longer needed.”

“Beach Sweeps have been instrumental in educating our communities about pollution prevention and offering ways to positively influence our environment,” said Bob Doherty, New Jersey president, Bank of America. “Bank of America employees look forward to joining 4,000 New Jersey volunteers every year to fight for clean water and preserve the beaches in our state.”

On Sandy Hook alone, Beach Sweep volunteers picked up: 5846 plastic pieces, 5324 food/candy wrappers, 4785 caps/lids, 2206 straws/stirrers, 1879 cigarette filters, and 1047 plastic beverage/soda bottles.

In addition to logging standard debris counts for various plastics, glass and lumber items, Sweeps participants also logged the strange objects that make their way to the beach from various nonpoint sources. Some of the ridiculous items catalogued today included: paint brush, nylon netting, fence, pacifier, floss, hair roller, and a zip tie.

With gratitude, Clean Ocean Action thanks Aveda, Bank of America, Kohl’s and ShopRite for their 2015 Beach Sweeps Statewide Sponsorship. The Fall Beach Sweeps are made possible by further support from many generous sponsors at the county level and at specific locations.

Clean Ocean Action’s mission is to improve the degraded water quality of the marine waters off the New Jersey/New York coast. Clean Ocean Action will identify the sources of pollution and mount an attack on each by using research, public education and citizen action to convince public officials to enact and enforce measures which will clean up and protect the Atlantic Ocean.