Ocean Conservancy kicked off the beach season in the Sunshine State last week with some hands-on conservation and the release of the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Report.
Together with our partners at Keep Pinellas Beautiful, we cleaned up Gandy Beach in St. Petersburg. Community members and individuals from organizations like the Tampa Bay Lightning and the U.S. Coast Guard stopped by to lend a hand, showcasing the deep investment Floridians have in our ocean.
A team of 51 adults and five kids collected 467 pounds of trash from the shoreline in just two hours. Using the Clean Swell app made tallying our efforts simple and easy. The most common items were cigarette butts, food wrappers and plastic lids and our weirdest find was definitely the airplane tire. Our findings closely matched items in the global top 10 list of trash, which for the first time this year was all plastic items.
The cleanup was complemented by a panel discussion moderated by Tim Nickens of Tampa Bay Times at the beautiful Florida Aquarium. Our own J.P. Brooker joined Tampa Bay Waterkeeper’s Andy Hayslip and Elizabeth “Libby” Fetherston-Resch from Florida’s RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence.
It was eye-opening to hear the panelists talked about the biggest threats to Florida’s marine environment: trash and marine debris, overfishing, water quality, offshore oil and gas development and hurricanes.
They referenced the latest Supreme Court ruling in the Florida-Georgia Water Wars, preserving the environment versus overdevelopment at Rocky Point, the importance of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Florida’s progress in the eight years after Deepwater Horizon and resilience in the face of extreme weather events.
The urgency of the issues was tempered with optimism and hope. By coming together to address the problems—from the local to the federal level—individuals, communities and organizations alike can do their part to keep Florida’s ocean and coast healthy. We’d like to give a huge thanks to Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Florida Institute of Oceanography, NOAA, the offices of Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and the Floridians who came to our event.
At Ocean Conservancy, we believe that each and every person can make a difference. You can participate in the International Coastal Cleanup this September and local cleanups year-round. Let your member of Congress know that you support funding for important federal agencies like NOAA. Speak up against efforts to roll back important laws like the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
As shareholders of blue chip stock—the ocean that surrounds and defines not just Florida but the United States—we all have the responsibility of protecting it.