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Delaware Coastal Cleanup

Delaware Coastal Cleanup

Trash on our beaches and in our waterways isn’t just unsightly – it’s also potentially dangerous to marine life and in some cases harmful to water quality. The annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup offers volunteers an opportunity to help make a difference for Delaware’s shoreline and waterways while joining an international effort to clean up the world’s waters.

The Beach at Cape Henlopen

The 2020 Coastal Cleanup

The 33rd annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. The cleanup will be from 9 a.m. to noon. In case of severe weather, the rain date will be Saturday, Sept. 19.

Registration for individuals and small groups will open on August 1. A link will be posted here. Groups of 10 or more should pre-register beginning July 1 by emailing

For the 2020 event, precautions will be taken to ensure the health and safety of cleanup participants, who will spread out across 40 to 50 locations throughout the state, working outside and generally in groups no bigger than 10 to 15. Planning for this year’s event covers a wide range of contingencies, including possible cancellation, with decisions to be based on the most current coronavirus conditions.

DNREC organizes the Cleanup as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup. The Delaware Coastal Cleanup promotes clean beaches, waterways, wetlands and watersheds in support of Keep DE Litter Free, Governor John Carney’s statewide anti-litter initiative.

In 2019, nearly 2,000 volunteers collected 3.6 tons of trash and recyclables from 46 sites along more than 125 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island.

Zone Captains and Contact Information

If you are a volunteer and have questions about your site in the 2020 Coastal Cleanup, please contact the zone captain in your area:

  • State Parks Statewide Zone Captain: Alison Romano, 302-900-1423
  • State Wildlife Areas Zone Captain: Lynne Pusey, 302-422-1329
  • Sussex Beach Sites Zone Captain: Jennifer Pongratz, 302-608-5502
  • Kent County Bay Beach Sites Zone Captain: Laurel Sullivan, 302-739-6377

Groups of 10 or more should contact their zone captain (if known) or Cleanup Coordinator Joanna Wilson at

Volunteers at Fox Point

The Coastal Cleanup App

Download the Survey 123 app from Google Play or the Apple store. Choose the Coastal Cleanup from the list, log in with a simple password from your site captain, and follow the directions in the user guide to enter your coastal cleanup data.

Beautifying the Bayshore

More than two dozen Coastal Cleanup sites are part of Delaware’s Bayshore, which encompasses the central part of the state’s shoreline east of Route 1, from New Castle and Delaware City in southern New Castle County to the Lewes/Cape Henlopen area of Sussex County.

This unique region, with its quiet bay beaches, marshes, forests, wildlife areas and agricultural/residential lands, is the focus of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to conserving wildlife habitat, enhancing low-impact recreational opportunities and building strong communities through environmentally compatible economic development.

The Ocean Conservancy Connection

Delaware’s Cleanup is also part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse.

The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

A recent marine debris report released by the Ocean Conservancy found that general-source marine debris – trash that comes from both ocean- and land-based activities – increased across the United States by more than five percent each year. (This report can be seen at

The Ocean Conservancy supplies trash bags, data cards and brochures on marine debris. DNREC organizes the event, recruiting volunteers, distributing supplies, ensuring trash removal and tabulating all the data collected.

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