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Coastweeks Beach Cleanups Begin Sept. 20

Coastweeks is coming! Virgin Islands Coastweeks cleanup activities will begin on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, and will continue through Oct. 11, 2008. Volunteers at beaches on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will join thousands of people from more than 80 countries worldwide in the planet's largest volunteer cleanup on behalf of the marine environment.

Marcia Taylor of the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) is coordinating the Coastweeks activities on St. Croix. "This effort will hopefully help policy makers make decisions to help solve the marine debris problem," Taylor said. The Coastweeks beach cleanups have been an annual activity in the Virgin Islands for about the past 15 years. "Every year we are getting trash off the beach and getting information out to people," she said.

Coastweeks is an excellent opportunity for local organizations to help keep our beaches clean, while earning community service hours.

"It's a land-based source," Taylor said of the origins of trash that volunteers find on the beaches each year. Buoys, nets, lines, cans, food containers, bottles, lids, wrappers, paper and plastics all make their way into the water and litter Virgin Islands shorelines.

Taylor said that prevention and cleanup are the primary objectives of a public education initiative to protect the marine environment. In schools, children are being taught not to litter but now parents must learn.

"Don't do it for the tourists, do it for us," Taylor said. "Everybody is a part of the problem and everybody is a part of the solution."

The Virgin Islands' Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) will assist local groups, clubs and schools to organize and conduct shoreline and underwater cleanups as part of the Coastweeks activities. This year VIMAS is partnering with the VI Waste Management Authority (WMA), which will help transport and dispose of the trash that is collected.

VIMAS will provide garbage bags, data cards and pencils, and will send the data to The Ocean Conservancy after the event.

To organize a Coastweeks cleanup in your area please contact:

  • St. Croix: Marcia Taylor, UVI/VIMAS at 692-4046
  • St. Thomas: Lihla Noori, UVI/VIMAS at 693-1392
  • St. John: Kristen Maize, Friends of the VI National Park at 779-4940