Ventura County, CaliforniaUpdates from Ventura County Chapter—Protecting our local ocean and beaches from source to surf
Surfrider is fed up with plastic pollution. It’s ugly and can impact wildlife that we love. Plastic pollution in the ocean typically starts as litter on the beach, streets or sidewalk. Sometimes there are more direct sources. After discovering a new type of plastic litter on the beach last year, Surfrider volunteers traced it back to fireworks from the County Fair. We were happy to work with the Ventura County Fair Board and the fireworks company to use less plastic this year, improve clean up efforts, and we are all aiming for zero plastic litter next year.
In August of 2015, a Surfrider member discovered small red and white plastic objects on the shore at C Street/Surfers’ Point (see photo A). It took a week or so to figure out that these plastic pieces were firework debris resulting from the Ventura County Fair fireworks shows that occur each evening of the fair. This info was sent out to our local Surfrider chapter and a few other members showed up to check out the situation and collected a significant amount of debris the morning after the last night of the Fair (see photo B).
The Chapter compiled a report of their findings and shared it with the CEO of the Ventura County Fair and the Board. In July of 2016, 2 Surfrider members attended the Ventura County Fair Board (VCFB) meeting to share their concerns about the environmental impact of the plastic firework debris. The VCFB was supportive, thanked the chapter for the information, and scheduled a meeting with the project manager of the fireworks vendor to discuss ways to eliminate the plastic debris. The outcome of the meeting with the fireworks vendor was positive and 3 specific actions were identified to eliminate the debris
- The fireworks vendor would remove all plastic bags and plastic components of the fireworks prior to launching them.
- The fireworks company would tie off the ignition wire, preventing the wire from flying loose with the shell as it launches.
- Implement a better procedure for morning site checks and clean-up
With the understanding that the above actions would be put in place, Surfrider volunteers surveyed the firework launch area and surrounding beach area each morning (8/4 through 8/16) of the 2016 Fair to assess the effectiveness of the agreed upon actions.
There was very little debris observed the mornings of 8/4 through 8/6. The clean-up person and a volunteer were out each evening after the firework show cleaning up what debris they could in the dark and were out again each morning. They did a good job collecting firework debris at, and around, the launch site. However, on the morning of 8/7 we began to find white plastic pieces about 100 yards down (towards the pier) from the launch site all the way down to the pier. The white plastic pieces appeared to have washed up with the tide and were found mainly at the tide line, and most of them were caught up in kelp beds (see Photo C).
The number of plastic pieces increased over the time period of 8/7 through 8/9. The amount of plastic pieces increased from ~ 30 pieces on 8/7 to ~ 125 on 8/8 to ~175 pieces on 8/9 (see Photo D). This debris was collected by 1 volunteer over a 1-hour period. The debris was of concern because it was plastic (non-biodegradable), can be confused with food by marine life, and appeared to be increasing in number over time.
These findings were communicated via email to the fireworks company and the CEO of the Fair on August 9th. The fireworks company was quick to respond, identified the plastic pieces and suspected that a vendor of theirs had started to use these plastic pieces in place of what used to be a paper piece. They immediately extended their clean-up efforts the following morning and investigated the source of the plastic. As a result, there was an immediate reduction in the number of plastic pieces found at the tide line the morning after the 8/9 correspondence as a result of clean-up efforts extending towards Ventura pier. These efforts continued through the end of the Fair as well as two days after the Fair ended and resulted in a major reduction of these plastic pieces being found at the tide line, in kelp, and in the rocks.
However, because the plastic pieces went directly into the ocean, they continued to wash up further south over time. On August 16th, Surfrider received an email from a resident of Pierpont beach to inform us that they had been finding plastic pieces (see Photo E) on the shoreline as far down as Dover jetty. Dover jetty is ~ 2 miles south of the launch site. This finding stresses the importance of ensuring the plastic components are eliminated from the fireworks as it is impossible to collect the plastic pieces that remain in the ocean and wash up to shore further south.
Moving forward, Surfrider would like to continue to improve upon the mitigation efforts that have been established to ensure there is no negative impact on our beaches, ocean and marine life from plastic firework debris. Specifically, we have asked the VCFB and the fireworks vendor to:
- establish a mandate with their suppliers that only paper components be used in fireworks sold to them. Thus, eliminating the plastic component debris identified during this year’s Fair and preventing further littering of the ocean and beaches
- utilize the clean-up standard that was established this year in following years.
We will continue to monitor this issue and to work with the VCFB to protect our beaches and ocean.
Can you believe that the Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter has been doing great things for 25 years?! It all started when a group of passionate people met at the Fairgrounds in 1991 to form one of the first chapters for the Surfrider Foundation.
Come out to Surf Brewery on October 29th to celebrate our achievements with great music, food and beer! The parking lot will be fenced off and a stage will host surf music from Sea Hunters and reggae from Fire Stick and Rising Son. There will be a kids art tent, a fashion show, costume contest, raffle, food truck and a special new beer release from Surf Brewery to commemorate the occasion.
Admission is $5 at the door or for $12 at the door you can get admission, a commemorative steel pint cup and first beer fill. We also have a special VIP package only available online in advance. For $40 you get admission, a commemorative steel pint cup and first beer fill PLUS a commemorative long sleeve t-shirt, a Surfrider reusable bag and a 22oz bottle of the commemorative beer to take home. Click Here to purchase the VIP package.
After six years of advocacy to the California state legislature, a bill to ban plastic bags was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014. Unfortunately, due to the political maneuvering of the big plastics industry, the bill was stalled and will be put on the ballot as a referendum. The California voting public will now be asked to a reaffirm this bag ban legislation by voting YES on 67 this November.
Click Here to sign the pledge to Vote YES on 67 and share it with your friends and family to help finally ban disposable plastic shopping bags across California! Would you like to do more? Click here to heck out the upcoming events and volunteer opportunities to promote the YES on 67 campaign for a statewide plastic shopping bag ban.
Recent research tells us that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050! We see single-use plastic items, including the easily littered plastic bags, polluting our beaches and ocean. Marine plastic pollution is also extremely harmful, and sometimes fatal, for marine life. Plastic bags have an easy solution with reusable bags so this plastic bag ban is a great start at stopping the plastic waves of pollution entering our ocean and impacting wildlife.
Do you like music? Pubs? Great food? How about a place that has ’em all? Then please join us Wednesday, September 7th from 3:00-6:00 pm, for a special pre-opening event at Copper Blues, a great restaurant that is coming to The Collection in Oxnard. In exchange for complimentary food and drink Copper Blues is suggesting a donation to Surfrider and service tip for staff. This is your chance to check out a great new restaurant before anyone else! Please make a reservation by sending an email to email@example.com
This video was featured in Brown & Caldwell’s BC Water News yesterday, so it’s a great time to draw attention to it! As KCET’s YouTube channel says, “At Surfer’s Point, the rebuilding of the California Coastal Trail and other restoration projects serve as a testament to the community’s efforts to maintain this thriving coastal center.”
(If the embedded video doesn’t appear in your browser, you can view it at https://youtu.be/ejrfg3TQG5Q.)