Press Release: Clean Ocean Access Honored for Public Access Efforts as It Releases Quarterly Report

Clean Ocean Access (COA) recently released its quarterly public access report detailing the safety and status of 50 public rights-of-way across Aquidneck Island.

During the fourth quarter, COA says that 23 volunteers completed 151 site surveys and monitored all 50 public rights-of-way within the City of Newport and the Towns of Middletown and Portsmouth. Volunteers and staff monitored and performed marine debris removal at all 50 public rights-of-way. Volunteers also monitored water quality testing at select public access points that remain popular destinations for residents and visitors all year round.

“The ocean has given me more than I could ever give back,” says Eric Vienne, a Newport resident, surfer and longtime COA supporter in a press release. “A time has come when coordinated efforts are necessary to counter negative impacts of modern living against our oceans. I volunteer for COA so generations to come will have clean waves to ride.” Preserving and protecting shoreline access is critical to COA’s mission and lies at the foundation of the organization’s core programs. Without safe and available access to public rights- of-way, surfers like Eric would not be able to access the shoreline to enjoy their favorite ocean activities.

The third quarter assessment finds that most of the access points are in good status, and all require short, medium and long-term action plans to maintain access to the water for recreational ocean activities. One right-of-way in Newport and two rights-of-ways in Portsmouth are not clearly identifiable and require coordinated action with Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (RI CRMC) and municipal staff to remedy the situation.

In January, COA received an award from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) recognizing COA’s work to improve public access to the East Bay coastal areas, clean the shoreline, monitor rights-of-way, and to advocate for a clean Narragansett Bay. COA staff attended the 21st Annual Banquet, held at the Quonset O Club in North Kingstown, where RISAA honored organizations that promote and enhance recreational fishing through environmental efforts, fisheries management, public access, and more.

COA program manager, Eva Touhey, holding the RISAA award overlooking Green End Pond.

“We are honored to accept the environment award from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association for our work to improve public access and advocate for a clean bay and ocean,” says Jessica Frascotti, program coordinator at COA in a press release. “We are thrilled to collaborate with an organization that shares in our goals to protect and preserve shoreline access for all to enjoy and we look forward to continuing our hard work towards protecting public access, eliminating marine debris and improving coastal water quality in 2019 and beyond.”

COA extends its sincere appreciation to all its volunteers and citizen scientists, as well as to the staff and council of the City of Newport, Towns of Middletown and Portsmouth, and RI CRMC for supporting the organization’s current and future efforts to protect and preserve shoreline access for all. 

Press Release: Clean Ocean Access Releases Comprehensive Intern Report

MIDDLETOWN – Clean Ocean Access (COA) recently released a comprehensive report detailing the growth and success of the organization’s internship program, including profiles of interns both past and present. Since the launch of the internship program in 2015, COA has mentored twenty-nine high school, undergraduate and graduate students, who have engaged in professional internships in environmental science, education and research, as well as communications, marketing and finance.

This report demonstrates the diversity of interests and interdisciplinary backgrounds of students who intern with COA, as well as the different universities that the organization works with throughout the year, including both in-state and out-of-state institutions. Students use the invaluable experiences gained during their internships at COA to build professional networks and advance their future careers.

“I was motivated to intern with COA because I heard about all the work the organization does on Aquidneck Island,” said Eileen Dillon, communications and marketing intern during fall 2018. “It was a really awesome opportunity to be part of something where I could see myself making a difference in the community.”

Students who have pursued internships with COA have moved on to work as scientists, instructors and science experts in diverse fields across the private, nonprofit, federal and higher education sectors. Several internships have also resulted in full-time employment with the organization, including marine debris specialist, Max Kraimer, who completed three consecutive internships with COA and program manager, Eva Touhey, who was the organization’s first intern in 2015.

COA looks forward to growing and expanding its internship program, offering meaningful mentorship and experiential learning opportunities to students interested in engaging in environmental nonprofit work. During the spring 2019 semester alone, COA expects to bring on 10 interns to assist in environmental science, communications, environmental education, and policy research work.

“I strive to go the extra mile for my interns by enabling them to take on their own projects and encouraging students to play to their strengths,” said executive director, Dave McLaughlin. “The results of this have been extraordinary.”

Students have the opportunity to pursue summer, fall and spring internships during which they work alongside COA’s dedicated staff, board, volunteers and citizen scientists to advance the organization’s mission to eliminate marine debris, improve coastal water quality, and protect and preserve shoreline access on Aquidneck Island.

COA currently has environmental education and communications and marketing internship opportunities available for the spring 2019 semester. Interested candidates can find out more and apply by visiting COA’s employment and internships opportunity page.

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.

Education Report

The summer education events are upon us and we are super excited to share with everyone the results of the past five years of our hands-on education activities and results. It is amazing to see that what started as single event has become an effort that has educated thousands of students across Aquidneck island and beyond! Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, family foundations, staff and partner organizations that have allowed us to foster environmentally responsibility for the next generation of ocean enthusiasts!


2008-2017 Water Quality Monitoring Report

The Clean Ocean Access year-round weekly water quality monitoring program is a citizen science based initiative aimed to directly empower the community to provide monitoring data for use in decision making and effective remediation of pollutants. Clean Ocean Access collected 4,309 water samples on a weekly basis at several popular swimming locations and likely sources areas for Enterococci from January 2008 to December 2017. Check out our detailed report HERE!

Overall, the water quality along the shoreline of Aquidneck Island and in the watershed has improved. Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers who make this program possible and take samples every Thursday year-round.