(NC) Home to thousands of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, Canada claims a fifth of the world’s freshwater and has the world’s longest ocean coastline bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Plentiful water comes with responsibilities though — because we value our water ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabit them, we must do our part to care for them. Taking part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is one simple way to help.

“Litter and debris have become a critical issue in all our water ecosystems, from lakes and rivers to every ocean coastline,” explains Kate Le Souef, manager of the Shoreline Cleanup. “We see animals entangled in netting, strapping bands and six-pack rings; we know fish, birds and turtles mistake litter for food; we’ve discovered that harmful chemicals can leach into aquatic environments from trash. The need for action has never been more urgent.”

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is the country’s largest direct-action conservation initiative, organized by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, and is presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. Since it first started in 1994 more than 600,000 people across the country have participated, helping to keep our rivers, lakes and oceans healthy for the communities and wildlife that depend on them. In 2015 alone there were more than 2,000 volunteer-led cleanups made up of over 59,000 registrants with events in every province and territory.

Across Canada, residents, schools, community and corporate groups are doing their part to remove litter from shorelines before it can get into our freshwater and marine ecosystems where it degrades habitat and threatens wildlife. Join them any time of year to reconnect with nature, learn about how litter harms our ecosystems and make a real difference in the health of your local waters.

Learn more or register to clean your local shoreline online at shorelinecleanup.ca.