In the fall of 2020, San Antonio Bay Partnership began organizing a Shorelines Cleanup around the Port O’Connor area. Much like the Abandoned Crab Trap Cleanup efforts, volunteers in boats & kayaks head out to small island shorelines throughout Matagorda Bay, Epiritu Santo Bay and San Antonio Bay. Volunteers are provided gloves and bags then walk or paddle picking up trash. Trash is often hidden in the cord grass and mangroves, it can be a difficult task. But our volunteers know they make an impact. We ask volunteers to log items of trash they removed. In the three years since we’ve started this event, plastic bottles are by far the most common item (6983) followed by plastic pieces, aluminum cans and plastic bags.
2022 Expanded Effort
Now in its third year, San Antonio Bay Partnership (SABP) Shorelines Cleanup has blossomed into a multi-day and multi-partner effort to remove awful trash. On Thurs, Sept 22 employees of Braskem Seadrift cleaned shorelines at Powderhorn Wildlife Management Area along Broad Bayou. On Tues, Sept 27 the Seadrift community, under the leadership of Janie Waghorne, mobilized 10 local boat captains for their inaugural cleanup, and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge staff cleaned up the refuge shorelines. Thursday, Sept 29 brought the entire senior class from Victoria’s St. Joe High School to clean shorelines out of Port O’Connor as their class service project. On Saturday, October 1, boats went out of Port O’Connor for the third year. Additionally, several boats cleaned shorelines individually throughout the period.
“It was gratifying to be able to significantly expand the effort this year. By all measures, the event was the most successful yet in terms of participation” said Allan Berger, SABP Chair and Cleanup Coordinator. “It’s indicative of the increased awareness and community concern about plastic litter in our bays.”
Total effort included 183 persons and 33 boats that removed approximately 4 tons (3 roll-off bins) of trash from our bay shorelines throughout the Port O’Connor & Seadrift areas. Over 54 miles of shorelines are now cleaner due to these dedicated volunteers.
As teams picked up trash, a designated team member recorded each item on a data sheet. This data reveals the staggering amount of trash in our bays and is the key to providing insights into how the trash ended up in the bay. This year over 11 thousand items were removed from our local bays. Cumulatively, over the three years of the Shorelines Cleanup event, 31,017 pieces of trash were removed. Berger uses the data to assess local sources of trash and observes that much of the trash appears to be items blown off boats — and could be prevented by changes in boater behavior.
“Marine litter is a problem, aesthetically and, as the science continues to show, environmentally. For those of us who grew up on the Texas Coast, it’s like someone dumping a load of trash in your front yard.” Berger said, “Picking it up is effortful. Doing this work as part of a dedicated team though replaces the drudgery with camaraderie and fun competition.”
Over 50 miles of shoreline was cleaned, but it’s not enough. The real impact will come if we change our collective habits to reduce the plastics entering our bays. “I challenge each of you to review your choices and actions regarding single-use plastics.” Berger said, “A good place to start is to ‘skip the plastics’ on your boat! To keep the bay cleaner, use refillable water bottles or refillable coffee cups.”
Funding for the events was provided by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant obtained by the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. Other sponsors included Braskem, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, San Antonio River Authority, H-E-B, TPWD, and USFW. Thanks to all!”
Click here to read the complete 2022 Shorelines Cleanup Summary
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