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Cruz Bay
Sunday, March 3, 2024


May 25, 2001 — Hundreds of volunteers picked up almost 12,000 pounds of trash and debris from the territory’s beaches as part of last year’s International Coastal Cleanup.
Some 620 people in the territory collected 11,930 pounds of debris that not only fouls coastline and beaches but threatens wildlife. Last year’s effort is 2,500 pounds more than 1999 and saw 200 more volunteers, said Paige Rothenberger of the V.I. Marine Advisory Service.
Every year for three weeks in the fall the Center for Marine Conservation holds its coastal cleanup, which is aimed at increasing community understanding of the importance of beaches and marine resources by cleaning shores and reef in the territory and throughout the world. In the Virgin Islands, VIMAS, a part of UVI’s Eastern Caribbean Center, assists local groups, clubs and schools to organize and conduct shoreline and underwater cleanups.
In 1998, 219 volunteers cleaned up 3,425 pounds of trash from beaches and reefs, Rothenberger said.
"Living on a small island in the Caribbean we must realize the importance of our coastal resources," she said. "Our beaches, reefs and waters not only attract tourists to our shores, they define our quality of life. If our marine environment is suffering, so is our quality of life."
Trash and debris also threatens the life of countless marine mammals and birds, Rothenberger said. Such animals are the most threatened by discarded fishing gear, balloon ribbons and string, plastic and other floating debris, which are often mistaken for food. According to the CMC, some 15 percent of all sea birds have eaten plastic or tried to feed it to their young. Endangered sea turtles often die after mistakenly eating floating plastic bags as jellyfish, their favorite meal.
Data from each country and from each of the U.S. states and territories involved in the annual cleanup is analyzed and announced yearly. The statistics are used by lawmakers and researchers who study marine debris, said Rothenberger.
For information about this year’s clean up, call VIMAS at 692-4043 or check out www.cmc-ocean.org.

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