Jordan Coll / Staff Writer
Accompanied by live music, free T-shirts, and another 100 countries, volunteers collected a vast amount of ocean debris at the 34th Annual International Coastal Cleanup.
Despite the adverse weather, the event took place in the historic site of Virginia Key Beach Park.
This park marks a pivotal point in addressing racial tension as it became known as the first and only “colored beach” in Miami Dade County on August 1st, 1945. Having the clean up at this site by bringing together a community, shows how people can come together from different backgrounds in the name of cleaning up our oceans.
With nearly 15 million people participating in this annual event worldwide, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup collects an estimate of 300 million pounds of trash along our coastlines and waterways.
Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy spoke on the environmental issues of today and how cleanups such as these bring communities together in the act of preserving our future generations.
“We know that the ocean has a lot of problems right now and that cleanups are just a piece of the puzzle to solving such a global issue,” said Janis.
The launch of Ocean Conservancy now counts with the support of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, including the support of the Everglades Foundation. Ocean Conservancy and the Everglades Foundations initiated the Ocean to Everglades (O2E) program.
“What brings this cause home are the plastics found below the water lines and no one really sees it, but put a mask on and out into the water you would start to see our poorly treated environment” stated Rodney Barreto, Chairman of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee.
With this partnership with these foundations, conservation work to ensure the safety of our environment can be handled effectively.
“With this partnership, we are covering environmental issues dealing with ecosystem sustainability, the wide challenge of facilitating marine degree, and algae blooms” stated Jacquie Weisblum, Director of Ocean to Everglades (O2E) program.
“The turnout exceeded my expectations, especially how the weather was this morning,” stated Ken Russel, City of Miami Commissioner.
Environmental policies are always put into question when it comes to corporate powers wanting a share at the table, the commissioner believes that true environmental change, “is found within legislation passing bills that effectively bring change and holding leaders accountable,” said Russel.
Without the support of politics, he believes the environment can only go so far.
Ocean debris such as microplastics, tiny plastic particles less than 1/8 of an inch barely visible to the eye are affecting the quality of our global ecology. These synthetic compounds enter the food system through the ingestion of organisms causing these microplastics to be pervasive in the environment.
“People want services that take care of the environment,” said Russel.