YOU can be the solution to ocean pollution

CEDO has been participating in cleaning and recycling campaigns in our coastal city of Puerto Peñasco, Sonora since 1995. In 2005 this work was integrated into the global effort guided by The Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organization that for the last 25 years has hosted an annual, international coastal clean-up event with thousands of volunteers participating across the world.

Volunteers collect garbage, record information about it (now via the Clean Swell App – below) and share it via a global database. By understanding what kind of waste we are dealing with, we are better able to promote specific and effective solutions for this growing problem.

The Ocean Conservancy has a new smart phone app to facilitate data collection to their global database. Use this guide to participate!

CEDO is also part of the Local Committee for Clean Beaches in Puerto Peñasco, a body headed by Mexico’s National Water Commission (CONAGUA). CEDO has been involved in implementing the coastal cleaning program, conducting biodiversity assessments, and developing an action plan for protecting local beaches. In addition, CEDO supported the attaining of a national “Clean Beach ” certification  for Peñasco’s most popular tourist destination – Sandy Beach (via Mexican Standard NMX-AA-120-SCFI-2006), and with CEDO’s support, Sandy Beach was certified as the first officially “Clean Beach” in Sonora in 2016!

YOU can help solve the problem of marine & coastal debris by:

  • Joining our Northern Gulf of California beach clean-up effort in 2019; email us at
  • Using re-usable cloth bags when going to the supermarket
  • Asking restaurants not to provide you with plastic straws and silverware
  • Bringing your re-usable Tupperware and mug to your local store or cafe
  • Becoming politically active and joining a “ban-the-bag” or other grassroots campaign against plastics
  • Supporting CEDO’s outreach and education work 

Background & Justification

The Importance of Coastal & Marine Ecosystems

A child from Puerto Lobos’ drawing of the mangrove clean-up he participated in with CEDO’s Corridor Communities Outreach Program.

Coastal and marine areas provide us with essential services, whether we live by the ocean or far inland. In the oceans, half of the oxygen we breathe is produced by tiny floating plants called phytoplankton, and the water that evaporates from the seas’ surface soon becomes our fresh drinking water.

In addition, many of the foods we rely on for protein, such as shrimp, clams, and different species of fish, are born in coastal wetlands and live out their lives in the sea. Even if you eat meat or are a vegetarian, fish, seaweeds and other ocean products are used as feed for livestock and as nutritious compost for agriculture.

In summary, we literally, breathe, drink and eat the marine and coastal ecosystem. Harvesting from the ocean and coasts also provides livelihoods for thousands of fishermen and their families in the northern Gulf of California, and millions of people globally. Many others make their living from tourists visiting beaches, wetlands, and islands, such that these ecosystems sustain a much wider economy and all of the hardworking people who are employed by tourism-related services.

A Burgeoning Sea of Garbage

Communities in developing nations, such as those of the northern Gulf of California, lack sufficient waste management infrastructure, and what is more, there exists a throw-away culture where many people feel it is ok to use and to litter trash on the street, in waterways, and on the beach. Puerto Peñasco alone generates around 80 tons of trash daily. Meanwhile, the corporations that produce these insurmountable amounts of waste keep flooding the market with more and more packaging and single-use convenience items that will inevitably contribute to the burgeoning pool of coastal and marine debris; the faucet is left running while we try to mop up the overflow.

CEDO staff member, Angeles Sanchez removes a plastic bag from a dead, endangered least tern (Sternula antillarum) in Morúa Estuary, Peñasco.

This global issue is responsible for environmental and human health problems. Materials like plastics keep breaking down into smaller pieces through photo-degradation (via sunlight), where they enter the food chain and remain in the ecosystem for hundreds of years.

Plastics also attract persistent organic pollutants (POP’s), such as heavy metals released from mining, which sorb (that’s a technical term) onto the plastic pieces, that are then ingested by animals large and small. Even the tiniest zooplankton and corals in the oceans have been observed swallowing these toxic micro-plastics, which can impact a range of biological functions including their ability to reproduce.

The toxins are then passed up the food web, such that the largest animals, and those that cover the greatest distances, like tuna, sea lions and orcas, have become living repositories of toxic waste. In technical terms this is known as the bio-accumulation and magnification of pollutants in living organisms. In a tragic twist of irony, humans wind up consuming the very trash that we produced, together with the toxic substances we have dumped into the sea. Other animals accidentally eat garbage until their stomachs fill and they starve (ingestion), while others become entangled in debris such as abandoned fishing nets, and drown.


The 2018 Great Coastal Clean-Up of the Northern Gulf of California 

22 Years of Clean-Up Culture, 1995-2017