Coalition works to clean up foam pollution at Brandt Island Cove salt marsh in Mattapoisett

In a quiet, scenic salt marsh along Brandt Island Cove in Mattapoisett, bits of white are scattered across the grass, nearly indistinguishable from the snow that has covered southeastern Massachusetts this winter.

woman stands next to large foam block in a salt marsh in Mattapoisett

Coalition legal intern Morgan McCarthy stands next to a man-sized piece of foam at the edge of the marsh and woods.

But these white pieces aren’t leftover snow and ice. They’re plastic – broken fragments of polystyrene foam that have washed ashore.

Some pieces are as big as a person, crushing the marsh grasses under their size and weight. Just as damaging are the grain-sized bits of foam embedded deep among the grass stems.

The foam is coming from Leisure Shores Marina, which uses large squares of foam to hold up its floating docks. Over time, these foam floats break apart due to wave energy and encrusting animals such as mussels and barnacles.

The Coalition has asked the marina to take action to stop this litter to the neighboring salt marsh. We also partnered with staff attorneys and law students from Harvard Law’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic to come up with ideas to resolve the problem.

Replacing the foam floats with floats covered in hard plastic would prevent them from breaking down. It’s a critical step to prevent further damage to the salt marsh, which provides an important habitat for fish, shellfish, birds, and insects.

The Coalition is supporting the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission in its work to require the marina to remove these outdated, deteriorating floats and clean up the mess the foam has made. Replacing the floats would stop this source of pollution to the marsh and protect this sensitive area from any more damage.

If you live in Mattapoisett, you can help make a difference on this important issue. Contact the Conservation Commission today and lend your support for better regulations to protect the Brandt Island Cove salt marsh.

Until there’s a solution, the broken foam will still be there, sitting like snow even as winter fades to spring.

Category: On the Bay

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The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

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