Press Release: Volunteers Collect Nearly 300 Pounds of Marine Debris Despite Freezing Temperatures

Volunteers walk along Second Beach to collect marine debris and litter. (Photo credit: Hugh Fanning)

MIDDLETOWN — On Saturday, February 9, 2019, Clean Ocean Access (COA) hosted a cleanup at Sachuest Beach, locally known as Second Beach, overlooking the beautiful Sachuest Bay. The south facing beach is a family friendly go-to with good surf and great sand.

58 volunteers braved the freezing temperatures and gusts of wind to collect a whopping 290 pounds of marine debris from the Sachuest Beach coastline. Volunteers, including several students from Salve Regina University and residents from across Aquidneck Island, spent the afternoon cleaning up the locally loved beach and popular tourist location, while exercising their public right to access the shoreline.

Located along the famous Cliff Walk, surrounded by sweeping views of the ocean, Salve Regina University offers students a coastal experience unlike any other. Whether moved by a social media post or motivated by their love of the ocean, many students felt compelled to do their part and participate in the cleanup at Second Beach this past weekend.

“A big part of being at Salve is the ocean, especially as we’re right on the Cliff Walk. If the ocean is ruined others will not have the same opportunity to enjoy it as we do now,” reflects Faith Lambert, a student at Salve Regina.

Volunteers collected over 442 individual items of marine and litter across two miles of shoreline, including 82 plastic and glass bottles, 54 caps and lids, 52 food wrappers and containers.

Nathaniel Crocker (left) and PJ McNamara, students from Salve Regina University. (photo credit: Hugh Fanning)

“Pollution is a growing concern, especially here in Rhode Island. We just came out to do our part because we know how important it is; it starts with the little things and works its way back up. Cleaning up the beach is the least we can do,” said PJ McNamara, a biology major at Salve Regina University.

COA’s beach cleanups are made possible by the generous sponsorship of People’s Credit Union and their support of a clean local economy. Their sponsorship helps fund the beach cleanup program and by supplying volunteers with cleanup kits that include grabbers, gloves, reusable bags, scales and clipboards.

The 2019 beach cleanup schedule is available online: http://www.cleanoceanaccess.org/calendar/. COA also actively seeks volunteers to join the flexible cleanup program. If you are interested in adopting a section of Sachuest Point to clean on a flexible monthly basis sign up online:  www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer/ or email jessica.frascotti@cleanoceanaccess.org.   

Press Release: Volunteers brave the cold to collect over 200 pounds of marine debris at Gull Cove

PORTSMOUTH — On Saturday, February 4, Clean Ocean Access (COA) organized a beach cleanup at Gull Cove Fishing Area in Portsmouth, where dozens of volunteers braved the freezing temperatures to clean the coastline of the popular boating and fishing area.

Forty-seven volunteers gathered and collected 221 pounds of debris around the perimeters of Gull Cove shoreline, where taller brush has been known to trap a surplus of various items of debris. Cigarette butts frequently become entangled in the brush. Volunteers collected 114 cigarettes and cigarette filters from the Gull Cove shoreline, accounting for a significant portion of the individual items found at the cleanup.

Over the years, Gull Cove has been misused as a dumping site, and as a result volunteers this weekend stumble upon larger marine debris items, such as tires, a car bumper, and a synthetic Christmas tree. The volunteers worked to collect marine debris and litter along the shoreline at Gull Cove, including large debris such as a fishing rod, two car tires, a car bumper and bike tire, as well as 86 glass bottles, 62 plastic bottles,  

Among the volunteers from the weekend cleanup there were students from Salve Regina University, Navy Supply Corps School and Middletown High School. “I wanted to promote a good relationship between the navy and the island community,” said Nick, a student with the Navy Supply Corps School, whose students frequently volunteer at COA cleanups. “We want to help make the community better; after all, we provide defense for the nation and the country means a lot to us, so we want to make sure it’s in pristine condition.”

This weekend’s cleanup gathered both veteran and new volunteers who helped clean up the local coastal environment for the betterment and enjoyment of all residents. “I’m a new Newport resident and I came out here to meet with people that also want to help clean the environment,” said Jinal Patel who recently moved to Aquidneck Island.

COA actively recruits volunteers for the flexible cleanup program, which allows residents to get involved and make a difference in the community on their own time. If you are interested in adopting a section of Sachuest Point for monthly flexible cleanups email: jessica.frascotti@cleanoceanaccess.org. For more information and upcoming volunteer opportunities visit: www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer/.

Press Release: Report finds single-use plastic makes up 70 percent of debris in marina trash skimmers

Clean Ocean Access recently released its annual Marina Trash Skimmer Report detailing the success of the Marina Trash Skimmer (MTS) program over the past three years, as well as the development and expansion of the program in southern New England, which will include the installation of new MTS units in Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts this coming spring.

In 2018, the four MTS units on Aquidneck Island successfully removed 5,885 pounds of marine debris from coastal waters, including 4,223 individual items of debris. That is equivalent to nearly three tons of debris ranging from material related to shoreline and recreational activities to smoking and medical/personal hygiene activities.

“As our staff empties the skimmers, it is eye opening to see the amount of trash removed from the harbor, as well as the different types of items,” says Sara Mariani with the City of Newport’s Harbormaster Office, one of the program partners for the MTS unit located at Perotti Park in downtown Newport. “The program is a daily reminder that we must change our behavior to improve the health of Newport Harbor, as well as the Narragansett Bay and beyond.”

Between April and October of this year, COA conducted 36 site visits of the four MTS units located across Aquidneck Island, and performed detailed data collection at each location. Itemized debris counts indicate that single-use plastic makes up 70 percent of material collected in the MTS units. This low-to-no-value material includes items, such as plastic food wrappers, plastic water bottles, plastic caps, lids and straws. The remaining 30 percent of materials collected in the MTS units include materials related to smoking and tobacco use, such as cigarette butts, tobacco packaging, filters and lighters.

The MTS program launched in 2016 when COA received grant funding from 11th Hour Racing to install the first two MTS units on the East Coast. The following year, COA expanded the MTS program with the installation of two more units on Aquidneck Island. Since the launch of the program, COA-operated MTS units have removed a total of 20,615 pounds and over 27,000 individual items of debris from our coastline.

“The trash skimmers provide us with important data about the pollution that ends up as marine debris in our coastal waterways,” says Max Kraimer, marine debris specialist at COA. Kraimer works to leverage, facilitate, and establish MTS technology and research on the East Coast. He also leads trainings and educational outreach events with local schools and community groups.

Over the past three years, the MTS program has educated and engaged 959 individuals, including elementary school students, college graduates and senior-level scientists studying marine debris.“We’re able to use the technology to educate the public about ocean pollution, bringing visibility to the problem of marine debris and inspiring communities to make environmentally-responsible decisions on land that improve the health of our ocean,” Kraimer adds.  

The success of the MTS program, made possible by 11th Hour Racing, has led to increased growth and awareness of the technology throughout southern New England. In spring 2019, COA plans to launch two more MTS units in Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts. COA will install an MTS unit in partnership with the City of Providence and the waterfront bar, Hot Club, helping to improve water quality in the Providence River and educate Providence public school students on the issue of marine debris. The second MTS unit is in partnership with New Bedford Community Boating Center overlooking Clark’s Cove in New Bedford harbor.

“By partnering with Clean Ocean Access and the New Bedford Port Authority on the installation of a trash skimmer, we will not only be helping to clean our local waterway, but we’ll be helping to raise awareness of the marine debris issue and encourage everyone to engage in positive change,” says Andy Herlihy, executive director of New Bedford Community Boating Center, an 11th Hour Racing grantee and community outreach center that teaches positive life values to Greater New Bedford’s at-risk youth through boating.

“The skimmer will be front and center on our waterfront, where it will be highly visible to tourists and residents alike. The ocean has historically and continues to be one of our city’s greatest assets and we all need to do our part for its health,” adds Herlihy.
COA extends its sincere appreciation to the MTS program partners and sponsors, including 11th Hour Racing, The City of Newport, New England Boatworks, Sail Newport, Bioprocess H2O, as well as to the volunteers and citizen scientists who help make the program successful.

COA and ALT to Host “Land and Sea” Coastal Cleanup at Fort Adams

Middletown, RI. – March 7, 2018 – A community cleanup to prepare Fort Adams State Park for the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race is planned as a collaborative effort between two local non-profit environmental groups, Clean Ocean Access (“COA”) and Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”). The event, to be held Sunday, April 8, 2018 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, is sponsored by The Roberts Group at Morgan Stanley. Volunteers of all ages are invited to join the effort, which will focus on collecting litter in the open spaces around the park’s historic fort and three beaches. Participants are asked to check in at the registration desk inside the original Sail Newport building at the end of the eastern parking lot in Fort Adams State Park. For complete details visit here