Coast Weeks Clean Up efforts start Saturday across islands
Published: September 20, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Volunteers across the territory are getting ready to join the efforts of people around the world for Coast Weeks Clean Up, an international beach clean-up effort that mobilizes hundreds of thousands of volunteers to collect tons of trash along thousands of miles of coastline worldwide.
In the territory, volunteers traditionally have extended the cleanup activities for weeks past the designated weekend, but this year, the cleanups will extend even further - into the month of October.
This year, Coast Weeks will be launched Saturday across the territory.
The V.I. Waste Management Authority has partnered with the University of the Virgin Islands' Marine Advisory Service and the Friends of the National Park to mobilize residents.
Volunteers from high schools and social clubs, college classrooms, dive shops and the entire community are invited and expected to form teams, pick spots and help the efforts.
For years, events on St. Croix have been coordinated by Marcia Taylor, who said participating in the event benefits the entire community.
"There are three reasons to do this: to get stuff off the beach so they do not impact wildlife, human health of the esthetics; to increase awareness of marine debris; and to collect information on the types of debris that are out there," she said.
Coast Weeks volunteers not only pick up trash and debris, they also record each item, and compile dates, including how many volunteers, how much coastal area was covered, what type of debris was found and how many pounds of debris was collected.
The data collected on the types of debris collected goes into a database that Taylor said is used to help policymakers evaluate current laws and plan for future implementation.
In addition to cleaning the land and beaches, local divers and snorkelers have been going underwater to remove trash and debris. Underwater trash usually accounts for about 10 percent of the total weight in garbage that is collected.
Taylor said while there are some volunteers secured for a number of areas, there is always a need for more, as there are miles and miles of coastal area to be covered.
Coast Weeks is done in coordination with the International Coastal Cleanup, organized globally by the Ocean Conservancy. The International Coastal Cleanup started 25 years ago and now boasts almost 400,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries.
Saturday's cleanups are:
- On St. Croix - Southgate Coastal Reserve at 8 a.m., in addition to Frederiksted Pier, Dorsch Beach and Columbus Landing all starting at 9 a.m.
- On St. Thomas - Brewers Bay and Perseverance Bay at 9 a.m.
St. Thomas Coast Weeks organizer Kala Tennant is asking groups to register to clean a beach or gut between Saturday and Oct. 31 and report their data by emailing email@example.com.
On St. John, Coast Weeks events are organized by Karen Jarvis at the Friends of the V.I. National Park. She said, her organization is planning a clean up 9:30 a.m. Sept. 28 as the only scheduled event, but all interested groups can pick a spot, do the clean-up and report the data.
"We know we are going to get a lot of people doing cleanups which is great, so we just want them to get organized, do their cleanups and then report the information and turn in their data cards by the end of October," Jarvis said. She can be reached at 779-4940.
Taylor said VIWMA will be setting up dumpsters and other aids for each clean up site and will handle the disposal of special debris, such as tires or batteries.
"Coast Weeks is the largest event that happens on an annual basis that is done on behalf of the environment and it is spread out so that whoever wants to participate has enough time to do so," Taylor said.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.