By: Lauren Thompson, ICC Coordinator-Mississippi, MDMR Public Relations Director
Mother Nature cooperated this year with the 23rd annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup: Low tide uncovered more trash for volunteers to pick up along the shoreline, and relatively calm seas allowed boaters to get out to the barrier islands and comb those beaches as well.
More than 3,100 volunteers and 80 sponsors collected 123,032 pounds of trash during the October 15 event, which is part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment.
The annual cleanup – organized by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force – took place at 77 sites in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. Volunteers collected 171 tires for recycling and filled 55 bags with recyclable items.
More than 20 tons of debris alone was removed from the state-protected Ansley Preserve marshes, through Mississippi Power’s Renew Our Rivers program, which is a partner in the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup. Much of the debris removed from the preserve, such as remnants of homes, was generated by Hurricane Katrina.
Volunteers tallied the items picked up during the event on data cards and turned these in to MDMR, providing valuable information about the amount, location and types of debris collected. Sources of marine debris can then be targeted for education or pollution-prevention campaigns, like Mississippi’s fishing line recycling program, which began in 2008. Fishing line recycling tubes were installed at public piers and boat launches all along coastal Mississippi, and to date approximately 300 pounds of fishing line has been collected and sent for recycling.
Our coastal waterways provide food for our families, recreation, and livelihoods for many of us. It’s the lifeblood on which our fisheries and marine wildlife depend. Our annual coastal cleanup is a reminder that, yes, we can make a difference in keeping our shorelines clean and litter-free: One cigarette butt at a time, one piece of fishing line at a time, one plastic bag at a time.
For more information, contact Lauren Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org