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New Campaign Aims To Purge The Seas Of Plastic Waste

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Fourth of July is the biggest boating day of the year, and this holiday a new campaign is urging boaters to pull plastic waste out of the water every time they go on their boats.

Eastchester Bay is full of vessels, and at times it might seem like it's also full of garbage. It's mainly plastic waste that finds its way into the bay and many other waterways.

According to National Geographic, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste blows into the world's oceans every year. Since sailors see it up close, the American Sailing Association just launched a new crusade called Operation Plastic Pollution Purge.

"It's a great opportunity to bring awareness to the issue of plastic in our waterways and a great opportunity to let sailors know and other mariners know that it's their responsibility to keep that plastic off their boat and out of the water," Kate Smith, owner of Soul Sailing, said.

Smith and her partner, Captain David Jenkins, operate a Bronx-based sailing school. They said plastic pollution is so significant they teach their students how to remove it.

"It's as if you took a New York City garbage truck and dumped it full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day," Jenkins said. "That's how much plastic winds up in the oceans."

The United Nations estimates that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic debris in our oceans than fish.

"It's kind of a big problem, but it's a people problem it's not a water problem," Smith said.

Dan Green is a launch operator at the Harlem Yacht Club and a lifelong City Island resident. He says plastic pollution will only get worse if we don;t all do our part.

"I have a boat hook and I try to pull stuff up out of the water if I can," Green said. "I think it's a brilliant idea and I think that's how you cut down on this stuff, you get everyone involved."

The American Sailing Association's campaign urges boaters to reduce or eliminate the number of plastic items they bring on their vessels and to collect and properly dispose of any debris they see while sailing.

Every year, over a million seabirds die from eating or getting tangled in plastic. It also kills countless marine mammals and fish.

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