Sign up for coastal cleanup set for Sept. 21

Staff reportSeptember 1, 2013 

Washington CoastSavers has opened registration for people wanting to volunteer in the International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 21. Volunteers can choose to work at dozens of beaches from Cape Disappointment to Cape Flattery.

This is the first time CoastSavers is joining the international effort, with volunteers and organizers sharing the common goal of protecting the marine environment, said CoastSavers coordinator Jon Schmidt

“There is a real need to keep debris off of our beaches; plastics are ingested by marine mammals and birds, which leaves them malnourished and at risk of starvation,” Schmidt said in a news release.

“Summer beach cleanups are often less productive than those in April following the winter storms, but there is still plenty of junk coming from up and down the coast, off of boats and blowing from the shore to the water,” he added.

The level of consciousness about marine debris was raised by the March 2011 tsunami in Japan, Schmidt said. According to NOAA’s Marine Debris program, the Japanese government estimated that the tsunami swept about 5 million tons of debris into the ocean. Of that, officials believe 70 percent sank off shore, leaving 1.5 million tons floating.

“It is difficult to link much of the debris on our shores to the Japan tsunami, but that makes it no less important to remove,” Schmidt said. “Participating in the International Coastal Cleanup is one way that you can contribute to addressing the global issue of marine debris.”

Washington CoastSavers is an alliance of public agencies, private organizations and individuals who have joined forces to ensure Washington’s ocean beaches are regularly cleaned. Founding members of CoastSavers include representatives from the Lions Club International, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Since 2007, their efforts have been concentrated on the Washington Coast Cleanup which occurs in April on the weekend of Earth Day. The expansion of CoastSavers efforts is largely due to support from Ocean Conservancy.

Volunteers who aren’t physically able to carry filled bags off the beach can participate by serving as a registration station beach captain.

The coalition also is looking for financial assistance, Schmidt said. It costs about $1,000 to rent one dumpster and dispose of the trash once it’s filled. A typical coast cleanup involves renting at least 10 dumpsters.

If you want to participate, go to coastsavers.org to find information about how to register, what beaches will be cleaned, where to camp and other helpful trip planning ideas.

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