To the Editor:
I am writing on behalf of Friends of Sengekontacket to offer our support on the recent objective to ban nips.
Our mission as an organization is to preserve and protect Sengekontacket Pond and the barrier beach. In identifying our biggest concerns, it became clear that beach garbage was a major threat to our ecosystem. The pond and beach are home to a few endangered species, as well as many incredible species that are not yet endangered. We are also acutely aware that the trash problem we create here can unjustly become someone else’s problem due to the tides and currents.
To mitigate this issue, we started hosting quarterly beach cleanups on Joseph Sylvia State Beach, and we noticed that an overwhelming majority of the trash collected was nips. Our quarterly cleanups were not enough to keep the beach clean, so we started funding a cleanup crew, who clean the road and beach almost every day during the summer. We were saddened to find the same issue during these cleanups: nips everywhere.
Cleanups are only one step in a solution to the problem, so we turned our attention to public awareness to prevent nips from reaching the beach. In 2019, we used the trash we collected from the Earth Day cleanup to build a 20-foot great white shark, and for the past three years Nipsy has been at over a dozen events. We chose her name to draw attention to the largest source of trash, and made her large teeth entirely out of nips. We collected 149 signatures from the community in support of a nip ban during the 2022 Agricultural Fair, but despite the support and encouragement, and awards at the Ag Fair and the Fourth of July parade in Edgartown, nips continued to litter the beach.
We also started the Carry In Carry Home program to educate our Island’s children about why it’s important to protect our beaches. In hopes that we can prevent the beach garbage from occurring with future generations, students design posters that promote the removal of litter from beaches. The winning posters are displayed at the beach entrances around the Island.
Despite all these efforts, nips remain an issue. We see no other way forward than banning their sale. Additionally, as a frequent paddler of the pond, I find floating nips in the estuaries and around the islands. Not only is it dangerous to our wildlife, but as I lead visitors past the trash, it disappoints me that this is how our Island is being represented.
The towns of Nantucket, Falmouth, Chelsea, Mashpee, Wareham, and Newton have already passed nip bans, and we strongly support Edgartown and Oak Bluffs in their desire to be environmentally aware communities.
Friends of Sengekontacket board member, and Island Spirit Kayak, owner