On the third Saturday of September each year, volunteers around the world take part in the world’s biggest coastal cleanup, known as International Coastal Cleanup Day. The event has been held internationally each year for over 20 years, when people head to the beaches and begin removing debris and rubbish from shorelines, waterways and oceans.
In 1986 the American Centre for Marine Conservation held the first beach cleanup on the Texas coast with the aid of 2 800 volunteers. Since then, the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) has included inland lakes, rivers, streams and underwater sites in the cleanup and approximately half a million people in more than 100 countries have participated in the cleanup.
The problem of marine debris does not necessarily start in the ocean, but is dumped further inland and washed down into the oceans. Statistics from the 1999 ICC showed that 59% of debris collected was from land sources. Each year there is a vast increase in the number of marine animals injured or entangled in debris found in the oceans. Turtles mistake floating plastic bags as food and thousands of seals, whales, dolphins, sharks and birds die from entanglement in fishing line and other debris.
The aim of the cleanup is:
• to remove debris from all bodies of water;
• to collect valuable information about debris;
• to heighten public awareness of the causes of litter and debris;
• to make a positive change and to promote water pollution prevention efforts worldwide.