By LESLIE STURMER
Aquacuture Extension Agent
The International Coastal Cleanup, taking place this Saturday, is the world’s largest volunteer effort to help protect the ocean.
Over the past 26 years, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers and the ocean on just one day each year. They have recorded every item found, giving us a clear picture of the manufactured items impacting the health of humans, wildlife and economies. The body of data from the International Coastal Cleanup has inspired action to rid the ocean of harmful trash.
This year’s effort in Cedar Key is being spearheaded by the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association, City of Cedar Key Marina, USFWS Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Key Women’s Club, Florida Nature Coast Conservancy, UF/IFAS Shellfish Extension Program, Tidewater Tours, Cedar Key Island Tours, Kayak Cedar Keys, Sunset Isle RV Park, Low-Key Hideaway, Dog Island Blues Clam Company and Cedar Shoals.
Cleanup of the Cedar Key shoreline and outlying islands will occur from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Sept. 15. Volunteers are to sign-in and pick-up trash bags at the Cedar Key Marina. Boat transportation will be provided by Tidewater Tours, Cedar Key Island Tours and the NWR to offshore keys is available to volunteers on a “first come, first serve” basis. From noon to 2 p.m., all collected garbage will be sorted and documented on Ocean Conservancy data cards. Hot dogs will be provided to all volunteers. Cold water will also be supplied, but bring your own bottle to fill as we do not want to contribute hundreds of plastic bottles to the local landfill.
In conjunction with Coastal Cleanup, the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association is initiating a cleanup effort targeting cover netting. This plastic netting is used for predator protection of clam crops. During storm events, cover netting can become dislodged and tidal currents can carry it away from the lease areas. During the week of Sept. 15-21, waste bins will be located at the City Marina for clammers, boaters, or anyone to deposit recovered cover netting.
Those interested in joining this year’s ICC in Cedar Key should contact Sue Colson at 352-543-6648, or The Ocean Conservancy at 1-800-262-FLOR.