All Topsail Island towns now prohibit using unencapsulated polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam, for floating docks, piers and walkways.
The Surf City town council passed an ordinance July 5 and North Topsail Beach aldermen July 6 during their respective meetings, following the lead of Topsail Beach commissioners who approved on April 13 the first such ordinance in the state.
Though the language varies slightly in each ordinance, the three towns explicitly prohibit the use of unencapsulated polystyrene on any new floating docks, piers and walkways.
Kerri Allen, coastal advocate and southeast regional manager with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, said the town officials took action after learning about the federation’s recent large-scale marine debris removal.
“They were shocked with how much debris was found in the areas surrounding Topsail Island and reached out to the federation to see what they could do to help prevent it,” she said.
The Coastal Federation also suggested language for the ordinances.
Surf City Town Manager Kyle Breuer told that town’s council during its May 20 work session that the Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Commission had advanced the proposed ordinance.
“These docks break up and you get microplastics in the marshes. This would have a big impact in the future by eliminating the use of this product. Topsail Beach has adopted an ordinance to ban these types of floating docks. This applies to materials being used moving forward,” Breuer said, according to the meeting minutes. During the next work session, aldermen moved the proposed ordinance to their July meeting consent agenda.
North Topsail Beach aldermen also heard the suggestion to ban unencapsulated polystyrene in May. That’s when Mayor Pro Tem Mike Benson gave a report on unencapsulated polystyrene. Aldermen then directed the town’s planning board to review the proposed ordinance before it went before the board to be approved.
“Anyone who’s been in our waterways and seen the mess these dock floats leave behind after a storm knows just how pervasive they can be,” Allen told Coastal Review. “The efforts taken by Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail Beach will keep immense amounts of harmful debris out of our coastal waters. We’re incredibly proud of these three towns, leading the way for a cleaner and healthier coast.”