Fifty-two cleanups conducted this year resulted in the removal of just over 25,200 pounds of debris from the shorelines in the Upper Keys. For founder and Conch Nick MacShane and his wife, Kristina, a will to preserve and protect a fragile aquatic ecosystem has brought a community of like-minded individuals together for a greater cause. 

Forming in late 2020, Coastal Waters Revitalization not only educates the public on protecting fragile aquatic ecosystems from pollution, but it’s also getting the community together to remove debris from oceans, canals and mangrove estuaries.

Born in Marathon and raised in Key Largo, MacShane attended Key Largo School and Coral Shores High School before going on to attend Florida Keys Community College (now known as College of the Florida Keys). He’s the eldest of nine children.

“I have always had a passion for the ocean,” MacShane said. “My best friend from high school called me ‘Submariner.’”

Cleanups have brought out students from Ocean Studies Charter School, Boy Scout Troop 912 and local residents wishing to help clear debris from parks and nearshore waters. Monroe County Solid Waste, Upper Keys Sanitary Service and Waste Management have also shown support. 

In an interview with the Weekly, MacShane delves into his passion for the environment from his early years and the role Coastal Waters Revitalization is playing to protect and preserve the ecosystem. 

Nick MacShane, founder of Coastal Waters Revitalization, finds plastic debris during a cleanup. CONTRIBUTED

Growing up in the Florida Keys, we had limited options as far as activities. My family spent a lot of time on the water and camping. I was PADI dive certified when I was 12 and have over 1,000 hours logged. My favorite dive sites include Spiegel Grove and the Benwood, both off Key Largo. 

The moment I knew someone needed to step up was last year, July 2020. My family was out on the water and collected bag after bag of marine debris inside John Pennekamp State Park. The more you look for it, the more you see it.

Coastal Waters Revitalization was registered in December 2020 and received the IRS nonprofit status in 2021. I was anxious about checking the mail everyday for my registration and approval letters. I am just as excited today as I was when I opened the approval letter. I felt like now we can make a bigger difference in my community.

Our mission is to educate the public on the importance of protecting our fragile aquatic ecosystem. I have been environmentally conscious since as long as I can remember. We have been cleaning marine debris up the Keys since I was a kid.

Honestly, the amount of pollution in the ocean is mind boggling. I believe the biggest impact we can make is educating children and adults on the importance of environmental conservation, specifically marine conservation.

CWR would like to think our success comes from the communities we support and our volunteers. We have partnered with many great companies including Monroe County Solid Waste Management, Upper Keys Sanitary Services, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, John Pennekamp State Park and many more.

The Keys community is amazing. We have received support from many individuals, from friends and family and volunteers who have common goals. We have organized cleanups with Boy Scout Troop 912, Ocean Studies Charter School, Key Largo School’s Mrs. Caputo and her 5th grade Safety Patrols.

We are always looking for volunteers and supporters. The hardest part for most is finding the time to volunteer. Typically our community cleanups are held on Saturday mornings once a month. We post community cleanups on social media, Coastal Waters Revitalization on Facebook and Instagram, and our website.

I would like to make the difference in my community, and then my community can make the biggest impact.
— For those who wish to contribute a charitable donation may do so by visiting MacShane said every dollar donated nets two pounds of pollution removed from Florida Keys waterways.

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Jim McCarthy believes in community reporting, giving back and life on the water. A workout fanatic, diver and a bogey-golfer, Jim loves chicken wings, Marvel movies and sports.