Coastal Clean-up the Rest of the Year!
- by Karen Fineran, photos courtesy Hancock Chamber
Why Is It So Important To Clean Our Coasts?
Coastal cleanup is vital to our community’s economy, as well as to the planet’s health. Our coastal waterways provide food for our families, recreation, and livelihoods for many of us. Wildlife entanglement and ingestion, economic costs, and habitat damage are some impacts of marine debris.
Hancock County is a beautiful and popular coastal tourist destination that relies substantially upon tourism dollars. Marine debris is an eyesore. Nobody wants to swim at a beach littered with trash.
Fishing and shrimping is another industry that is important to the county. Marine debris impacts the seafood industry by harming the animals that are fished, as well as making commercial and recreational fishing more hazardous to boats.
Beach to Bayou
One of the most notable types of impacts from marine debris is wildlife entanglement. Derelict nets, ropes, line, or other fishing gear, packing bands, rubber bands, six-pack rings, and a variety of marine debris can wrap around marine life, leading to injury, suffocation, starvation, or death.
What Else Can I Do To Help?
- You can help prevent marine debris from accumulating. The source of debris is people, and the choices that they make every day. Don’t litter. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Choose reusable items and use fewer disposable ones. Become familiar with local recycling efforts, and help educate others.
- Keep streets, sidewalks, parking lots and storm drains free of trash - they can empty into our waterways and oceans. At the beach, park or playground, dispose of all trash in the proper receptacles or take your trash home with you. Pick up any debris you see while out. Serve as an example to others.
- You can also help while you’re out enjoying our coasts. While you’re walking your dog on the beach, or getting ready to launch your boat for a day of fishing, pick up any litter that you see. Help reduce the amount of debris that enters the water by properly stowing and securing all trash on your boat. Take care not to allow derelict fishing gear (such as nets, tackle, lines, or crab/shrimp pots) fall into the water, and remove any abandoned gear that you see. Report any illegal dumping to your marina management and to the local U.S. Coast Guard.
- Want to step it up even more? Encourage your school or community organizations to sponsor or get involved in a local cleanup in your area, or in any area that concerns you. Support legislation and other measures that help stem the marine debris problem.
How Can I Learn More?
For more information about the Mississippi cleanup, contact Ed Cake, Chairman of the Marine Debris Task Force, at (228) 324-9292, or Melissa Scallan, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) Public Affairs Director at (228) 523-4124.