The Oceanside Pier and Sunset Cliffs were the two trashiest beaches in San Diego County last year, according to 2016 beach cleanup data released Monday by San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego chapter.
More than 1,000 pounds of refuse was picked up by volunteers last year at the Oceanside Pier. Sunset Cliffs provided the most refuse on a per- volunteer basis, with an average of 7.65 pounds per person.
About 80 percent of the debris contained some form of plastic, particularly foam filters in cigarette butts, which accounted for 32 percent of the 188,000 pieces of collected trash, according to the report. Scientists say plastic debris is harmful to marine life.
“Much of the trash we find on the beach is first littered miles away from the coast,” said Kristin Kuhn, San Diego Coastkeeper’s programs director.
“It reaches the beach when wind and rain blow trash into our canyons, creeks and storm drains,” Kuhn said. “Small, lightweight plastics are particularly dangerous because they move easily to the coast, are hard to remove and look like food to aquatic and marine life.”
The beach cleanup volunteers also collected 4,302 fully intact plastic bags in 2016, continuing the trend of slight but consistent decreases in the number of plastic bags found each year, according to the report. California adopted a ban on single use plastic bags late last year.
“We look forward to seeing how the bag ban affects the health of our beaches as we continue cleanups this year,” Kuhn said.
La Jolla Shores was the cleanest beach in San Diego County last year with 0.42 pounds of trash found per person.
The report said the overall amount of trash removed last year was down slightly from 2015, possibly due to a drop in the number of clean up volunteers.
—City News Service
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