Clean Ocean Action

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Clean Ocean Action Making Waves

Ocean Advocacy Since 1984 Clean Ocean Action improves marine water quality by identifying and eliminating pollution sources, educating and motivating the public, and inspiring action for change.

This mission sustains diverse and vibrant marine life, ensures safe, splashy fun for all (small and tall), and provides for a thriving clean ocean economy.

“Our Addiction to Plastic” National Geographic, December 2019

“There’s something about flicking that cigarette butt … it’s so automatic,” says Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. Cigarette butts are made of plastic. In the ocean it breaks down into microplastics. But before then, marine animals often mistake the butts for prey. “They look a lot more like a morsel of food on the sea surface,” Zipf says.

As global attention focuses on issues like the plastic problem, COA is at the forefront of water pollution issues. Above is an excerpt from the article “Our Addiction to Plastics” from the December 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine. 3

June 2020 Dear Friends of the Ocean, A big hello from Clean Ocean Action to our true-blue family of friends! We hope you, and all you hold dear are safe and well in these unprecedented times.

Cindy Zipf Executive Director

Like you, social distancing has required COA to reimagine the landscape of our tried and true tactics, methods and events. Thanks to you, despite these choppy unchartered waters, we never missed a beat and continue to make significant progress defending and improving the ocean, where thousands of us seek comfort and solace along her shore.

In typical COA “can-do” style, we quickly found our sea-legs seeking solutions and opportunity, eliciting a new mantra of hope and evolution -- pivot, innovate, create, adapt. The new programs and approaches have empowered COA with innovative ways to reach and engage even more citizens. As a result, a new paradigm has emerged and we’re finding the best of both worlds by growing opportunities in the real world (for when social gathering returns). We are adapting to the virtual new world by developing inspiring new education, advocacy and research options that also allow for limitless potential for education, motivation, and active participation. Perhaps that’s no surprise.

BOARD of TRUSTEES D.W. Bennett Founding Board President Leo Gasienica President Bob Bennekamper Vice President

Bonnie Torcivia Secretary Valerie Montecalvo Treasurer Pat Bennekamper Tom Fagan Patsy Guttenplan Jim Lovgren Jeff Martin

Together, over the 36 years, we faced many daunting challenges, and yet always managed to improve our region’s watery world thanks to your dedication and support, and the feisty commitment of the COA crew. I hope you enjoy this booklet—especially the timeline, it’s hard to believe. Many of you have been along for this remarkable journey and have stories to tell your family. Indeed, it’s all our story.


As we all strive to navigate safely in the future, we know there is no crystal ball. However, we know this to be true: there are new stories to be told, and battles to be won for the health of the ocean. From our new headquarters we will continue to drive new initiatives and campaigns to meet the challenges head on, with your continued true-blue support.

Peter Blair, Esq., Policy Attorney

It’s also true that at the end of the day, the sun sets, and in the morning it rises. Water flows downhill, and waves never cease. The natural rhythms of life never stop, and neither can we, for life on Earth depends on us all. Together we can defend the ocean with all its richness and joys for today, and for the future. Wishing you good TIDE-ings and good health! Ever onward, together and with thanks,

STAFF Cindy Zipf, Executive Director Laurie Bratone, Development Director Kristen Grazioso, Education Coordinator Alison Jones, Watershed Program Coordinator Kari Martin, M.S., Advocacy Campaign Manager Spencer Munson, Resource and Event Coordinator Swarna Muthukrishnan, PhD, Staff Scientist Mary-Beth Thompson, Chief Operating Officer Allison Tully, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Cindy Zipf

A Bold Approach … for a cleaner, healthier ocean. What We Do •

Track down pollution sources, identify solutions, and launch campaigns to eliminate the sources including COA’s Rally for the Waterways & Blue Star programs.

Educate citizens and communities about the connection between polluting habits and behaviors, and ocean health, and empower them to act.

Investigate water quality degradation from stormwater runoff. Advocate for repair, and green infrastructure rulemaking and implementation in communities.

Ensure laws are enforced, pollution is reduced, and violators are prosecuted, and/or advocate for better laws.

Identify sound alternatives for sediment removed from coastal waterways to allow for safe navigation. • Reduce plastics, especially single-use disposable. •

Monitor complex public notices for harmful proposals and take action.

Target toxins in waterways to ensure fish and shellfish are healthy and safe to eat.

Work with COAlition partners to promote comprehensive legislation to establish the nation’s first Clean Ocean Zone, which will permanently protect the marine waters off New York and New Jersey.

Conduct and participate in climate change awareness campaigns, and support and advocate for environmentally sound offshore wind energy.


1987 - 1988

1988 (cont.)




Ocean off NJ and NY is the Ocean Dumping Capitol of the World

Raw sewage, sludge balls, medical waste, dying dolphins, and garbage slicks washup on beaches, closing beaches and causing economic crisis; COA launches multifaceted campaign

COA office opens in Building 18, Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook, NJ

Storm Drain Stenciling program launches to educate about polluted run-off

On behalf of COA et al, Gordon Litwin, Esq., files against federal government, shipping companies and longshoremen to stop ocean dumping of dioxinladen muck at the Mud Dump, 6 miles off Sea Bright, NJ

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman vows to end ocean dumping of toxin-laden muck COA organizes unity pledge with harbor groups to support alternatives to ocean dumping

“Terminate the Mud Dump Site” ending ocean dumping and establishes the “Historic Area Remediation Site” to restore offshore toxic waste zone

COA establishes Nature Center of Cape May thanks to Charlotte Todd of the Cape May Environmental Commission


The ocean is dumpsite free for the first time in 100 years

On February 26, Clean Ocean Action, a small yet feisty coalition of organization launches in Sea Bright, NJ, with 200 guests including US Representative Jim Howard, and NJ State Senator Frank Pallone. Cindy Zipf is hired as Coordinator

1985 COA holds nation’s first east coast beach cleanup on Sandy Hook, NJ

1988 COA organizes 450 boaters to join flotilla to Stop Ocean Dumping 12 Mile Sewage Sludge Site is closed, but moves 106 miles off Cape May Ocean Incineration of Toxic Waste off NJ is stopped due to public opposition

Under public pressure, industrial waste dumper DuPont Deepwater, withdraws application for ocean dumping off Cape May due to fierce opposition Federal Ocean Dumping Ban passes led by NJ Delegation with strong public support Concerned Businesses created to add economic voice: “What’s good for the ocean is good for business” 10 Tips for the Ocean series is created

1989 Last NJ acid waste dumper, Allied Signal, abandons permit due to massive opposition

Where it all began: The Peninsula House, Sea Bright, NJ

15 Mile Acid Dump closes Acid Waste Dumpsite, located 15 miles off NJ, caused the ocean to turn bright yellow

Billy Joel donates $55,000 to Clean Ocean Action

1991 NJ stops ocean dumping of Sewage Sludge Cellar Dirt dumpsite closes due to lack of need and zero tolerance for ocean dumping

Ciba Geigy stops ocean discharge of industrial waste off Toms River

Dery Bennett at the first media event at the Belford Seafood Cooperative

The ocean is sewage sludge free Wood burning off Manasquan, NJ, ends

Wood Burning Dumpsite was also known as the “gigantic barbaric backyard BBQ”


USEPA proposes expansion of ocean dumping at Mud Dump Site Gov. Whitman announces “no ocean dumping” plans

2000 “DUMP NO MORE MARCH FOR THE SHORE” Thousands of citizens and every coastal town join Cindy Zipf on a 127 mile march from Cape May Point, NJ, to Sandy Hook, NJ, in 14 days to support restoration of the toxic Mud Dump Site NJ passes law to prohibit ocean dumping of PCB contaminated mud, drafted by Andrew Provence, Esq. Clean Ocean Zone campaign is launched to pass federal law to protect the ocean from harm

Battle against ocean dumping of dioxinladen muck begins

COA holds first Student Summit

Ocean dumping of dioxin-laden muck is declared illegal


1992 NYC stops ocean dumping sewage sludge

Gordon Litwin, Esq. wins David vs. Goliath law suit, Clean Ocean Action vs. York

1997 VP Al Gore commits to








USEPA moves toward cleanup of PCBs in Hudson River; COA rallies with other environmental advocates at a fundraiser attended by Vice President Dick Cheney. Two days later, EPA announces its commitment to moving forward to remove 40 hotspots of PCBs from the Hudson River

Wakefern Food Corporation donates a Coastal Enviroscape watershed model for COA’s educational programming. This three-dimensional landscape map demonstrates point and nonpoint source pollution at typical sites around coastal areas

COA launches the first annual Corporate Beach Sweeps program, hosting 550 employees from Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Phillips-Van Heusen, Ricoh, Stryker Orthopedics, United Teletech Financial and Verizon

Superstorm Sandy decimated the NY and NJ shores

Governor Cuomo vetoes the Liberty Natural Gas proposal

Rally for the Navesink (now Rally for the Waterways) is launched.

Port Ambrose is defeated, ending a seven year battle to ensure the ocean remains free from harmful industry

Poo-sniffing canines are used to find the sources of polluted run-off and teams of citizen scientists are trained to test water quality

COA acts against the U.S. Administration to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in US coastal waters


Blockage of four offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) ports

2002 Clean Communities Bill is reinstated in NJ; promotes recycling and provides funds for local and statewide litter abatement and education programs

2003 NJ Senate unanimously passes a bill to limit the amount of PCBs in dredged material that may be transported or disposed in the ocean

2005 Support for Clean Ocean Zone (COZ) grows to include 84 organizations, 32 municipalities and environmental commissions, and 12,445 citizen petition signatures. Members of the COZ Legislative Committee meet with legislators in Washington, DC to identify ocean champions to introduce the COZ bill Federal legislation is introduced that calls for the removal of thousands of tons of large debris from the ocean. COA testifies before a joint Congressional Committee hearing to provide evidence of the problem

COA’s 25th Anniversary COA premieres the 60-second “Keep us Free from LNG” video

2010 th

25 Anniversary of the Beach Sweeps; Anniversary Symposium held with over 100 attendees at Brookdale CC

COA convened over 14,000 volunteers for restoration efforts following the massive hurricane that caused over $70 billion in damage Blockage of offshore oil and gas exploration and development

2014 COA celebrates 30 years of ocean advocacy, and launches the Blue Star Program to urge towns to better manage stormwater, track water pollution, and become more resilient

2016 COA completes a year-long investigation and report addressing the downgrading of the Navesink River due to pollution, and launches “Rally for the Navesink” A LNG industrial complex, which would have destroyed marine life, polluted air, and threatened security in the NJ/NY area, is blocked

2011 Liberty Natural Gas LNG Port was vetoed by Gov. Christie Strictest fertilizer control law in the nation is passed thanks to COA and others that worked to draft the legislation, challenging the chemical industry, and facilitating the successful outcome

COA helps draft federal legislation to improve protection for swimmers. At the Jersey Shore, the cleaner waters help the coastal economy soar, generating $42 billion

NJ Senator Greenstein, COA's Cindy Zipf and NJ Assembly Members Houghtaling & Downey with hundreds of citizens and numerous organizations at a press conference to rally against offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic


With the Deal Lake Commission, COA initiates water quality testing in Deal Lake

2018 COA helps draft NJ’s Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection (STOP) from Offshore Oil and Gas Act, which garners near unanimous passage Using Beach Sweeps data, COA supports the passing of local ordinances to ban certain single use products in 15 municipalities

Receiving the pen NJ Governor Murphy used to sign the STOP Offshore Oil and Gas Bill into law

Five states pass legislation or amendments to restrict offshore drilling, similar to New Jersey’s STOP Offshore Oil and Gas legislation engineered by COA Presented Rally for the Navesink model at a national conference as a scalable model for replication

2020 Citizens and municipalities activated, resulting in NESE Pipeline finally denied by NY and NJ Governors after four attempts by Transco Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders (SEAL) program awarded Impact 100 Jersey Coast’s first environmental grant. The program engages teens from underserved areas in Monmouth County to become environmental leaders in their communities

EDUCATION and OUTREACH Since 1984, Clean Ocean Action has used research, public education and citizen action to improve the quality of the waters off the New Jersey/New York coast. Our belief is that people will take action to protect things that they love and understand. Together, we must act quickly and effectively to keep our ocean clean. To help achieve this, Clean Ocean Action has developed education programs and resources to engage citizens in the protection of the ocean. COA’s programs help people understand the connections between our habits and actions, and the health of our environment. Our signature programs include the annual Student Summits, Beach Sweeps, Summer Internships and the new Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders (SEAL) program. Clean Ocean Action also offers opportunities to community organizations and school groups for speakers and presentations by COA’s staff about issues facing our ocean.

COA believes in building environmental leaders by teaching leadership skills, training future environmental leaders, and immersing students in the real work and challenges faced every day that are tied to protecting the ocean. Through COA’s Summer Internship Program, select students are engaged in exciting opportunities to gain experience in environmental education, policy and law, public engagement and outreach, and marine science.

SUMMER With funding from Impact 100 Jersey Coast, the first environmental grant given to a non-profit, the Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders (SEAL) program will engage teens from 10 underserved areas in Monmouth County to become environmental leaders within their communities. 8


Science can be a day at the beach. 31 years ago Clean Ocean Action organized the first Seaside Symposium on Sandy Hook. Today, the Student Summit continues to expand learning beyond the classroom and is designed to provide middle school students from all over New Jersey with the opportunity to participate in interactive marine environmental education, at the beach. The program remains free for schools, and on two spring days on Sandy Hook, and one fall day at Island Beach State Park, over 1,200 students and teachers from over 35 middle schools around the state participate in outdoor, interactive roundtable stations and field activities. In 2018 and 2019 COA branched out and partnered with the Natural Resources Protective Association (NRPA) to host the Staten Island Student Summit in Great Kills Park and is working toward the goal of adding an additional Summit in Cape May.


In 1985, COA launched New Jersey’s first Beach Sweeps program to clean up beaches and rid them of debris. The program is one of the most enduring cleanups of its kind in the world. It has grown from 75 people at one site 35 years ago, to over 10,000 volunteers in 2019 at over 65 sites from Englewood to Cape May. It is the largest environmental event of its kind in the state of New Jersey. 2020 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Beach Sweeps Program, and last year COA and volunteers surpassed 7 million pieces of debris removed from New Jersey Beaches.


Volunteers join as individuals, groups, or families, and collect and record valuable data about debris, which is presented in an annual report and used to advance federal, state, and local programs to reduce litter. Opportunities for volunteers under 18 were designed to engage Junior Beach Captains, a new group of teen leaders. The Beach Sweeps accomplishes the protection of marine and shore animals who often mistake litter for food, as well as the removal of plastics that often take hundreds of years to break down. Garbage on our beaches is also detrimental to New Jersey’s tourism and coastal economy.


SCIENCE and PUBLIC POLICY A BOLD APPROACH: Combining Science, Law, and Grassroots Activism Clean Ocean Action is uniquely organized to defend and improve the vibrant and challenged marine ecosystem. With a proven track record, COA spearheads a dedicated coalition of more than 100 groups, hundreds of businesses, and thousands of concerned citizens.

COA’s highly motivated and professional science, legal, and citizen action team is focused on improving degraded marine water quality and keeping the ocean wild and free from harmful industry. COA’s crew applies new and innovative strategies and activities to motivate and engage citizens. COA is also a leading national voice working with groups around the country on ocean protection laws and policy. COA conducts scientific and legal research to reduce: - Climate Change - Marine Debris - Pathogen Pollution - Chemical Pollution - Fossil Fuel Pollution At the core of COA’s success is combining science and law with grassroots citizen action campaigns to drive changes in public policy and laws. People-power is at the heart of the long and impressive list of successes. Citizens are the ocean’s most

powerful voice and first line of defense.


In 2016, over 565 acres of the Navesink River was downgraded and condemned for shell fishing due to pathogen pollution. In response, Clean Ocean Action launched Rally for the Navesink, a watershedwide campaign to improve and protect the river. It is a call to action to restore the Navesink River by 2020. As COA expands the program to include the Shrewsbury River, Deal Lake and Barnegat Bay, the program has been renamed Rally for the Waterways. The find-it, fix-it, no-blame-game approach engages citizens, communities and businesses to take actions to reduce pollution.


2019 Financials Revenue $814,179

Expenses $739,436

HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT THE OCEAN? Donate Your Day Celebrate your birthday, wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, anniversary, or other special occasion by requesting donations instead of gifts. Visit Double Your Impact Many corporations will generously match charitable donations made by their employees. See if your workplace has a matching gift program. Visit for a matching gift search. Smile When You Shop Select Clean Ocean Action as your benefiting charity on AmazonSmile to donate a small percentage of your Amazon purchases — at no cost to you! Visit Leave a Legacy Be a part of the future for your children and community. Talk to your attorney about ways of giving through your will, living trust, or retirement plans. Make a Standard Gift In addition to standard online or check donations, Clean Ocean Action also accept gifts via wire transfer, of stock (call the office), and from donor-advised funds.

WITH YOUR HELP... Clean Ocean Action prevails at keeping threats such as harmful ocean industrialization at bay, and continues to lead efforts to reduce plastic in our environment, reduce “poo-llution” in our waterways, and ensure offshore energy proposals are protective of marine life. Clean Ocean Action is a 501(c)3 charitable organization Tax ID # 22-2897204. COA’s 2019 audit was performed by German, Vreeland and Associates, LLP. Copies of the audited financial statements and Form 990 are available on COA’s website and by request.

Ongoing diligent and careful stewardship of donations has led to 36 years of programmatic and operating success, and with your support, we can do even more, together.


Clean Ocean Action engages the community through a variety of special events including the annual surfing competition, The Open, held in the fall at Seven Presidents County Park in Long Branch, NJ. In 2019 the Surf Open included over 40 surfers while hundreds more locals and fans gathered on the beach to help raise awareness and funds for ocean protection. Surfers in eight divisions included a wide range of ages and skill levels, from five-year old grom Kevin Flaherty, to local legend Vincent Troniec. Professional surfers competing included Seth Conboy, Mike Gleason, Sam Hammer, Tom Ihnken, Rob Kelly, Keith Noonan, Pat Parenty, and Jon Smyth. This event raises funds as well as awareness of the issues for various age groups - a different demographic of supporters.


Ocean Celebration COA’s Annual Gala Each fall hundreds of supporters gather to celebrate ocean victories and successes over the years. Guests are treated to a raw bar, special auction, live music and delicious food at Windows on the Water at Surfrider in Sea Bright. Generous sponsors make the event complete. The event raises critical funds that support COA’s work. We hope to see you there!


Looking Ahead Ahead Looking Clean Ocean Action will remain vigilant and focused on the serious challenges and threats that still lurk on and off our coast. ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗ 

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Healthy futures for our waterways and ocean are far from guaranteed Offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean looms for New Jersey and New York Devastating and wide-spread ocean seismic testing could be just a step away The The “plastic plague” in the sea is growing, harming and killing marine life The ocean is in peril from climate change impacts, which include increasing ocean acidification, threatening the sea’s web of life; increasing greenhouse gas emissions, fueling sea level rise; and ocean warming Federal water quality protections have been significantly weakened or eliminated Science and facts are ignored, putting people at grave risk “POO-llution” is on the rise in the ocean and coastal waterways, endangering families and wildlife

Working for aa Working for healthy healthy and and sustainable sustainable ocean ... ocean ... for generations to come. come.


Clean Ocean Action … Visit Us! Headquarters 49 Avenel Boulevard Long Branch, NJ 07740 Field Office Sandy Hook, NJ Sandy Hook, NJ Ph 732.872.0111

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