Artist works to raise awareness and reduce beach trash

Artist works to raise awareness and reduce beach trash
Artist Janis Selby Jones, right, and her husband Paul Jones wear "Short Sighted Shades" created by Selby Jones. Both the sunglasses and decorative objects on them were collected from Carlsbad beach. Photo by Promise Yee

CARLSBAD — Janis Selby Jones is a regular at Carlsbad beach, but unlike most beachgoers she walks along the shoreline to hunt for trash. Jones uses the trash she finds to make art statements about pollution.

Her artwork ranges from photos of colorful compositions of trash, to sculptures, totem poles and decorative sunglasses — all made from what she finds.

Jones discovers all kinds of trash during her walks, and was intrigued when identical small sprockets continued to wash up on the sand.

She knew the white sprockets were out of place, and wondered where they originated. With a mission to reduce trash along beaches she went online and described what she saw to likeminded environmental watchdogs.

It was suggested the white sprockets were biofilters, which are used by plants to filter water.

Toby Brown, founder of GRABBITS.org, put her in touch with San Diego Coastkeeper, which among other efforts helps people report pollution incidents to the right agencies.

Jones met with Matt O’Malley, Coastkeeper legal and policy director, and a scientist from the organization in June to share details of her findings and show them the white sprockets.

From there Coastkeeper brought the issue to the attention of the San Diego Regional Water Board.

“I received a direct email from Janis, responded, did some investigation, then contacted the Regional Board to work with them on further investigating,” O’Malley said.

The Regional Water Board determined the repeated beach trash is from Hubbs-SeaWorld, after an inspection of its aquaculture facility on June 28. The facility is located in the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, which is about a mile away from where Jones found the sprockets washed up on the beach.

The board also sent a violation letter to Hubbs-SeaWorld calling for clean up.

Hubbs-SeaWorld could face a $10,000 a day fine until remediation efforts are completed.

Legal follow through on residents’ trash sightings is a regular service of Coastkeeper.

O’Malley said Coastkeeper usually receives complaints from North County residents about irrigation runoff from properties, illegal dumping and trash in creeks.

“We don’t receive many beach trash reports,” O’Malley said. “We do run beach clean up programs and consistently find lots and lots of trash, so I don’t equate the lack of reporting with a lack of trash on the beaches.”

While follow-through with Hubbs-SeaWorld continues, Jones keeps up with her beach walks and artwork.

“I walk for several purposes to exercise, and as a creative outlet to take photos and make things out of trash I find,” Jones said. “I feel like I’m doing something good for the environment.”

Jones said she has used the sprockets in some of her art pieces.

Jones exhibits her work about four times a year. She recently showed her artwork at the Alley Art Festival in Vista, and will show her exhibit “Short Sighted Shades and Interactive Plastic” at the Coastal Cleanup Day in Huntington Beach Sept. 17.

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