You can find a lot of interesting treasures while combing Kodiak’s many beaches. But for Andy Schroeder, the founder and director of the Island Trails Network, his discovery of a small green plastic frog was one of his most inspiring finds. As Schroeder later discovered, the peculiar frog was one of thousands of bath toys that had been circulating the world’s oceans since 1993, when a container carrying them fell overboard during a storm. Schroeder’s chance encounter with this historic and well-documented event sparked his mission to conquer marine debris.
Work crews for the Island Trail Network recently took a break from building and maintaining Kodiak trails to work on what Schroeder says might be a bigger project – cleaning up marine debris on beaches all over the island.
— (Island Trails 1: :52 sec "And I think how much clean up we … very scary thought.")
The crew is currently in Halibut Bay cleaning up the marine debris, and has encountered trash with labels from all over the world. The clean up is a daunting task because of how many beaches are in the Kodiak Island Archipelago, but Schroeder got a little help with his mission this year. ITN was given a grant from the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation to pay set netters 50 cents per bag for marine debris they clean up near their site.
— (Island Trails 2: :41 sec "In order to try to collect more … all our marine debris.")
Schroeder says despite paying the set netters, the organization is still saving money. Having people already at the locations cleaning the debris and putting it on an already efficient transportation system is far more cost effective then flying crews out to remote areas and paying a barge to come pick up the garbage.
He said he hopes to get more community involvement with marine debris clean up, and ultimately inspire changes in the way people view the lifespan of a plastic, one that often ends in the ocean or on our beaches.
Schroeder says so far the project has been successful and already thousands of pounds of garbage have been sent in from various set net sites.