Ocean Currents » Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:58:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Thanks for a Fantastic International Coastal Cleanup! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:37 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12890

Thank YOU! This weekend, we wrapped up another spectacular International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.

From all of us at Ocean Conservancy – Thank You! See photos from International Coastal Cleanups below:

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An Olympic-sized Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/17/an-olympic-sized-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/17/an-olympic-sized-cleanup/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 14:00:32 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12629

The Olympics is a special time when people from all over the world gather together to cheer on their country’s top athletes in an amazing array of sports.

I can’t help but think of the similarities between the Olympics and Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup. They both span the globe in participation, bring people together, and are very competitive (I always try to pick up more trash than my friends, and I know you do too!)

Will you join us for this year’s Cleanup on Saturday, September 17? The Cleanup is only one month away—and we promise that you don’t have to train or be an athlete to participate.

The Cleanup is truly Olympic in size! Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers gather in countries around the globe to remove millions of pounds of trash from our coasts. I’m proud to be part of the amazing team that ensures the Cleanup occurs year after year.

But, we can’t do it alone. We need champions like YOU to dive in and join us this year.

We have an easy-to-use map where you can search the globe and find a Cleanup near you!

And, this year we have “upped our game” by having a new way to make your Cleanup more exciting than ever. Earn your own medals by tracking the trash you collect with our new app, Clean Swell. The more trash you collect, the more badges you earn. The app is free and available to download on both iOS and Android systems.

Go for GOLD by downloading Clean Swell AND joining a Cleanup near you!

]]> http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/17/an-olympic-sized-cleanup/feed/ 0 18 Million Fewer Pounds of Trash in Our Ocean: This Year’s Ocean Trash Index Has Arrived http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/26/18-million-fewer-pounds-of-trash-in-our-ocean-this-years-ocean-trash-index-has-arrived/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/26/18-million-fewer-pounds-of-trash-in-our-ocean-this-years-ocean-trash-index-has-arrived/#comments Thu, 26 May 2016 14:11:22 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12157

Once again, the time has come to share the results of last year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC)! This is an especially exciting year for the Ocean Trash Index because we’re celebrating the Cleanup’s 30th anniversary!

Each year, I’m amazed by the number of people who care about the health of our ocean. During the 2015 ICC, 791,336 people removed 18,062,911 pounds of trash from 25,188 miles of coast around the world. These volunteers collected trash on their local beaches and waterways and provided Ocean Conservancy with a snapshot of the most persistent forms of trash found along the beaches and waterways that’s impacting our ocean.

Volunteers part of the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup joined  the ranks of more than 11.5 million people who’ve joined the Cleanup over the last 30 years. I’m so grateful for the hard work of our volunteers, cleanup coordinators and local partners who help make the Cleanup a reality. We couldn’t do our work without their tremendous support.

This year—as in years past—one of the most commonly found items of trash were plastic drinking straws. These straws pose a real danger to animals like sea turtles, albatross and fish, who can eat them. That’s why we’re asking large, national restaurant chains make a difference for our ocean! You can help us take action by signing our petition asking restaurants to skip the straw.

Keeping straws out of our ocean, one drink at a time, will have a huge impact on the health of our ocean and the animals who call it home. Looking for more great ways to help create Trash Free Seas®? Try our suggestions below:

  • Check out the 2015 Ocean Trash Index and our infographics from the report  to learn more about the most pervasive types of trash.
  • Download Clean Swell, our newest app, and let us know what types of trash you’re collecting from your local beach. The app is available for both iPhone and Android.
  • Reduce your purchases of single-use disposable goods. Going reusable ensures throwaway plastics never have the chance to make it to beaches, waterways, or the ocean.
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Get Ready for the 30th Anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/19/get-ready-for-the-30th-anniversary-of-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/19/get-ready-for-the-30th-anniversary-of-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:09:37 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10662

Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup. It’s hard to believe that what began 30 years ago as a Cleanup on just a handful of beaches in Texas has grown to a yearly global Cleanup that involved thousands of volunteers, hundreds of countries and removes millions of pounds of trash from our coasts.

I’m proud to be part of the Ocean Conservancy team that has ensured that the Cleanup occurs year after year. Right now, we’re making sure our dedicated Coordinators all around the world have all the supplies and materials that they need to once again have a successful Cleanup.

Can I count on you to join us this year – it’s our 30th Anniversary after all.

Find a Cleanup near you!
We have an easy-to-use map where you can search the globe and find a beach Cleanup near you.

In last year’s Cleanup, more than 500,000 people picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash along nearly 13,000 miles of coastline around the world.

In the past 29 years of Cleanups:

  • More than 10 million volunteers that picked up more than 175 million pounds of trash from about 340,000 miles of shoreline.
  • Volunteers found 59 million cigarette butts, which, if stacked end to end would stretch from Washington, D.C. all the way to Miami.
  • Volunteers found more than 10 million plastic bags, which required 1,047 barrels of oil to produce.

As you can see, for 30 years the International Coastal Cleanup has been bringing people together to help protect the ocean… and, thanks to volunteers, we’ve been truly making a difference.  But, we can’t do it alone. We need YOU to join us this year. Please join a Cleanup near you.

 

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To the Point (and Nonpoint): Understanding Sewage Pollution and Stormwater Runoff http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/06/03/to-the-point-and-nonpoint-understanding-sewage-pollution-and-stormwater-runoff/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/06/03/to-the-point-and-nonpoint-understanding-sewage-pollution-and-stormwater-runoff/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:05:28 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10293

Photo: Corduroy LeFevre

As a boater or marina operator, you have probably experienced first-hand the effects of pollutants. Although you may make every feasible effort to prevent pollutants from entering your local waters, not all sources are easy to pinpoint. Here is a quick refresher of some of the most common types and sources of contaminants.

Most pollution can be categorized as “point” or “nonpoint” discharges. Point sources of pollution – such as outfall pipes – introduce pollution into the environment at a specific site or point. They are generally the easiest to identify, monitor and regulate.

By contrast, nonpoint source pollution comes from a plethora of diffuse sources and is unconstrained in movement. Nonpoint source pollution is caused by water (typically rainfall or snowmelt) moving over and through the ground. Sources include storm drains and runoff from parking lots, roadways or agricultural land.

Sewage: Point Source Pollution

Even though it’s not fun to discuss, sewage is an important topic when it comes to ocean health because it degrades water quality by introducing waste and potentially harmful microbial pathogens into the environment. Untreated sewage can enter the water from faulty residential, municipal or marina septic treatment systems or from direct discharges from shoreside facilities and boats.

Simply put, sewage makes water look bad and smell even worse. As a result, marinas and boaters must play a role in reducing sewage pollution.

Boaters

  • Remember that it is illegal for vessels to discharge raw sewage within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast and the Great Lakes.
  • Install and use a marine sanitation device as required by law.
  • Bring portable toilets ashore for proper disposal.

Marinas

  • Provide portable or stationary pump-out units or information on nearby pump-out facilities.
  • Give boaters access to dumping stations for disposal of portable toilet waste.
  • Provide clean onshore restrooms and encourage their use.

Stormwater Runoff: Nonpoint Source Pollution

Nonpoint pollution sources are difficult to measure and regulate because they tend to be diffuse and widespread. Stormwater runoff can pick up fertilizers and animal waste from agricultural fields; litter and household chemical from streets; and oil and other substances from roadways and parking lots. In marinas, principal runoff pollutants come from parking lots and hull maintenance areas.

The most visible pollutants in stormwater runoff are small pieces of trash. But runoff also carries hidden dangers, such as excessive nutrients, toxins, heavy metals and bacteria.

Boaters and marina operators can help reduce the effects of stormwater runoff by using non-toxic cleaning products; disposing of trash properly; and stenciling messages near storm drains to remind people about the direct connection to local waters.

Sewage pollution and stormwater runoff can severely harm water quality, wildlife and habitats – even local economies. Although any single discharge or runoff event may be small, it is the cumulative effect of many small inputs that is so destructive.

To learn more about how you can help reduce sewage pollution and stormwater runoff, see Chapter 3 and Chapter 6 of the Good Mate manual.

 

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When It Comes to Oil and Fuel Spills, Prevention is the Best Solution http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/05/when-it-comes-to-oil-and-fuel-spills-prevention-is-the-best-solution/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/05/when-it-comes-to-oil-and-fuel-spills-prevention-is-the-best-solution/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 16:55:51 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10173

Boats in a marina. Credit / iStockphoto

On April 20, 2010, an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and releasing an estimated 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico – making Deepwater Horizon the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. Five years later, scientists are still studying and assessing the short- and long-term effects of the BP oil disaster on the Gulf’s residents, wildlife and environment.

While almost everyone is familiar with the effects of large disasters such as Deepwater Horizon and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, many are not as familiar with the effects of smaller, more common spills. Every year Americans spill, throw away or dump out more than 30 times the oil that was spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. A single quart of oil can create a two-acre oil slick on the water’s surface – approximately the size of three football fields!

Most oil pollution results from accidents and/or carelessness. Fuel oil primarily enters the water during refueling, but oil can also escape during vessel operations. Oil from recreational boats typically comes from dirty ballast water, oil tank washings, bilge water, slops, sludges, fuel residues and waste oil.

Regardless of how they are released, all petroleum products – gasoline, diesel fuel and motor oil – are toxic to people, plants and wildlife. In addition to containing deadly metals, fuel and oil lower water’s oxygen levels, block life-giving sunlight and generally degrade water quality.

That’s why marinas and boaters must play a role in reducing oil and fuel pollution. Any operation involving the handling of oil or fuel should be accomplished in a way that minimizes the possibility of accidental release. Below are some steps boaters and marinas can take to reduce oil and fuel pollution.

Boaters

  • Don’t overfill fuel tanks – fill to only 90 percent capacity to reduce the chance of spills.
  • Use oil absorbent pads in the bilges of all boats with inboard engines.
  • Regularly inspect through-hull fittings often to reduce the risk of sinking.
  • Recycle used oil and filters.

Marinas

  • Routinely inspect storage tanks as required by law.
  • Use automatic nozzle shutoffs to reduce the potential for overfilling fuel tanks.
  • Set up an oil-recycling program to deliver used oil to a designated collection site.
  • Keep spill control equipment readily available.
  • Properly dispose of used oil and fuel-absorbent materials.

NEVER use soaps to disperse a spill – IT IS ILLEGAL

To learn more about how you can help reduce oil and fuel pollution, see Chapter 2 of the Good Mate manual.

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Keeping a Vessel Shipshape Keeps it Seaworthy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/23/keeping-a-vessel-shipshape-keeps-it-seaworthy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/23/keeping-a-vessel-shipshape-keeps-it-seaworthy/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:25:22 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10129

One of the basic principles of good boating is ensuring that a vessel is seaworthy. An un-seaworthy vessel threatens passenger safety and also poses an environmental hazard. Neglected or unmaintained vessels are at greater risk of sinking and releasing fuel, oil, sewage and toxic chemicals into the water.

Proper vessel maintenance, repair and operation are critical components to keeping vessels shipshape. In the Good Mate program, vessel maintenance refers to surface cleaning, washing, waxing and other upkeep. Vessel repair is considered sanding, grinding, painting, repairing plastic and hull scrubbing.

Vessel maintenance includes keeping boats in good, safe operating condition, cleaning them regularly, replacing and properly recycling batteries, inspecting emergency flares yearly and regularly inspecting vessels for leaks. Sanding, cleaning, painting and degreasing boats can pose major threats to the water. Particles of dust and paint in the water can block life-giving sunlight and toxic substances from cleaners and anti-fouling compounds can sicken or kill marine life.

Boaters can ensure proper vessel maintenance and repair practices by following these tips:

  • Use non-hazardous materials – if it’s hazardous to people, it’s hazardous to the environment.
  • Properly dispose of items that contain toxic materials, such as old batteries and marine flares.
  • When painting hulls, choose products that will provide anti-fouling performance while being kind to the environment.

Failure to properly maintain or repair a vessel can lead to vessel operation damage. Improper anchoring, operating in shallow waters, running aground in a sensitive area and operating without regard to wildlife are examples. Invasive species – non-native plants or animals that enter a new ecosystem – are also a serious concern.

Boaters have a responsibility to themselves, their passengers and the environment to properly and safely operate their vessels. Some of the steps boaters can take to reduce vessel operation damage include:

  • Choose anchor sites carefully and use proper techniques to avoid damaging sensitive habitat.
  • Avoid shallow water, where vessels can stir up sediments, disturb habitat and damage propellers, hulls and engines if they run aground.
  • Know where to go slowly to prevent shore-damaging wakes.

Boaters can help prevent the spread of invasive species by removing hitchhiking plants and animals from their hulls, rinsing vessels with freshwater and NOT dumping unused bait or packaging into the water.

It is also important for boaters to understand that their vessels can harm marine wildlife.  As a general rule, boaters should always slow their vessels when approaching wildlife and maintain a safe distance of 100 yards from marine mammals.

Adopting best boating practices that help ensure the proper maintenance, repair and operation of vessels is beneficial for those who love the water – as well as the species that live in it.

To learn more about vessel maintenance, repair and operation damage, refer to Chapters 4 and 7 in the Good Mate manual.

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