Jackson Co. volunteers gear up for coastal cleanup

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Commercial shrimper Chris Balius said he is fed up with people littering in Jackson County.  He said when litter bugs throw trash on land and in the waterways, it makes his job harder.

"I catch debris in my nets all the time," Balius said. "It will fill my nets up and cause me to lose catch. If I hook something big that has been thrown overboard, I can possibly destroy my equipment."

Balius said he can't stand to see the mess in his community, so he's signed up to pick up trash during Saturday's coastal cleanup. He feels it's the best way to make a big difference in his small town.

"We need to show pride in where we live and what we have," Balius said.

County Harbor Master Lesley Hamm would like more folks to adopt Balius' attitude, instead of dumping their litter anywhere.

"People do that because they are lazy," Hamm said. "They don't take the time to walk five more feet, and dispose of the items they are going to throw overboard."

Hamm said what some people don't realize is that simple objects like plastic or cigarette butts can threaten wildlife and damage ecosystems.

"You have small fish that feed; they mistake plastic bottles or marine debris for food."

Experts say plastic takes 400 years to decompose, and one cigarette butt can take up to ten months to go away.

Hamm said, so far, more than 1,800 volunteers have joined the coastal cleanup team.  She hopes the litter free push will spread to others in South Mississippi.

"We live, work, play here, and we need to protect it."

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is sponsoring the coastal cleanup from 8am to 11am Saturday. Volunteers will work at more than 50 cleanup sites across the coast.  Free lunch and tote bags will be provided for all participants.

If you'd like to learn more about the Coastal Cleanup, just call 1-877-BEACH-05.

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