Block Island Beach Cleanup: There is always more to do

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 7:00am

International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is a 30-year project of the Ocean Conservancy that collects information about ocean and shoreline debris from around the world. In 2015, about 18 million pounds of trash was collected by 800,000 volunteers around the globe. The Ocean Conservancy uses the collection statistics to inform efforts to develop policy and regulations that can help keep our oceans clean, and protect marine animals.

In Rhode Island, Save the Bay coordinates the ICC, and on Block Island the Ocean View Foundation organizes the effort, which is supported by all the island’s open space and environmental education non-profits.

Block Island’s 2016 ICC Beach Cleanup collected more than 600 pounds of trash from roughly 11 miles of beach, both around the perimeter of the island and in the Great Salt Pond.

Rhode Island’s 2015 ICC statistics were: 2,199 volunteer participants, and 19,469 pounds of trash picked up.

Low lights of the Block Island cleanup include 1,680 (plus the amount we could no longer count) cigarette butts, 142-plus yards of fishing line and rope, and many pieces of fishing net and trap gear. In addition single use plastic beverage bottles (212-plus), plastic bags (89-plus), and balloons (91) continue to be a scourge on our beaches and a danger to marine life.

But the work is never completely done. Left uncollected was a large mass of rope, fishing line, lobster trap and associated gear (see photo) on the beach just north of the sewer out-flow pipe; it was just too much for two people to haul back to the land. Perhaps retrieving this mass would be a good project for a group looking for a service project. If interested contact Kim Gaffett, Director of Ocean View Foundation, and a plan can be devised for its disposal.