The Waterkeeper Alliance is a nonprofit network of grassroots leaders working to patrol and protect the world’s waterways. It unites more than 300 Waterkeeper groups protecting more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents. (A mission that’s right up Tom and Mark’s alley.)
The Trash Fishing crew has continued to grow, gaining Facebook followers and participants with each event. For 2019, the team had set a goal to collect a pound of trash for every dollar in their $2,000 budget. By the end of the year, they’d far exceeded that goal, gathering more than 3,500 pounds of trash, with $600 still in the bank.
In December, they held a chili cook-off and raised $5,000, which will go toward renting boat slips where Tom and Charlie can keep their respective Whalers. “We’re really excited to keep the boats on the water,” Tom says. “That will allow us to go out fishing on weeknights, or whenever, and take out anyone who wants to go.”
They’ve reached out to local celebrities to spread the word, and they hosted an information table at a recent event held by local Boston Whaler dealership Colony Marine, where they chatted with lots of enthusiastic fellow boaters.
“I hope we can get more Whaler owners to participate,” Tom says. “It’s a great way for parents to get their kids involved in boating and a great way for kids to get their parents involved in helping the environment.”
One benefit of today’s socially connected world is that you don’t need to be near Detroit to get involved. Trash Fishing hosts contests online via its Facebook page and invites boaters everywhere to post their biggest hauls and craziest finds. “It’s a fun way to get a virtual pat on the back from our community,” Tom says
Looking forward, he hopes to expand the positive impact as more and more boaters jump on the trash-fishing bandwagon and chase goals of their own. He offers words of reassurance for anyone reluctant to get onboard with garbage: “We usually wear gloves, and people use nets and shovels and rakes so it doesn’t get too gross,” he says. “But the funny thing is, the trash has been in the water… So for trash, it tends to be pretty clean.”
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Calling all Whaler community members: Visit TrashFishing.com for tips from Tom, Mark and the crew on organizing your own clean-up efforts. Then head to their Facebook page to share comments and photos of your own trash fishing haul! Visit Facebook.com/TrashFishing.