During the 2005 hurricane season, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita inflicted severe damage on the Gulf of Mexico coastal region and deposited huge amounts of debris over large areas of the Gulf coast. Submerged marine debris poses a hazard to vessel traffic and can adversely affect commercially viable fishing grounds.
In 2008 these efforts continue in Louisiana. NOAA’s and cooperate closely with the and to survey offshore areas in Louisiana, map the new sonar contacts, and post them on the project Web site. Contacts requiring additional investigation are re-surveyed with multi-beam sonar, which provides more accurate target depth and a multi-dimensional view of the item found. Items considered a danger to navigation (DTON) are listed on the Web site and their presence promptly forwarded to the Coast Guard.
The Web site provides both static maps and GPS coordinates which can easily be downloaded and printed, and an interactive mapping option where users can zoom into a specific area and point on a contact icon to get more information. In addition, the project is undertaking an outreach effort to make local users aware of the survey and mapping efforts, and of the survey contacts found.
Parallel to the offshore survey, the Coast Guard, in cooperation with FEMA, NOAA, state agencies, and parishes, is conducting a large-scale survey and removal effort of Katrina and Rita-related debris items within inshore waterways. After the parishes provide information on impacted waterways, a survey is conducted and debris items posing a hazard to navigation in the waterway are located and mapped. Following consultation with and evaluation by Federal and state agencies, debris removal is conducted in a manner compatible with best environmental practices. Waterway maps and photos generated for this effort are also posted on the project Web site.