The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to award nearly $1.4 million to 13 groups across the country as part of our annual Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant competition. The recipients will use these funds to remove large debris including derelict vessels, abandoned fishing gear and other harmful marine debris from shorelines and coastal waters. Their efforts will be extended further by working with local volunteers on prevention initiatives. These projects typically last for approximately two years and create long-term ecological improvements for coastal habitats and wildlife.
This year’s funded projects are:
• The City of Bayou La Batre, Alabama ($150,000) will remove 23 large pieces of marine debris, primarily consisting of derelict vessels, from its Gulf of Mexico shipping channel. In coordination with state partners, local organizations and volunteer groups, the city will also work with the state-run Dauphin Island Sea Lab to restore habitat and implement a public awareness and outreach campaign to improve disposal of unwanted vessels.
• Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries ($135,527) will sponsor two large-scale derelict crab trap removal events in the Barataria-Terebonne and Lake Pontchartrain basins, some of the most heavily fished areas in Louisiana. The events will occur during the crabbing closure period set by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and will build upon successful removal efforts from previous years.
• Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water ($51,142) will work with local salvage companies to remove large debris in Ocean City, Maryland, and in Lake Erie.
• Clean the Bay Rhode Island ($194,800) began the Providence River Project, an effort to remove abandoned pilings and industrial waste from the East Providence shoreline in 2014. With this grant, Clean the Bay will continue removal efforts and supplement outreach and volunteer opportunities with community partners to address a debris issue that has plagued this area for more than 100 years.
• Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey ($109,618) will identify and remove nearly 1,000 derelict crab pots in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, and will gain a better understanding on how much gear is lost annually by recreational and commercial crab fishermen.
• Stockton University, New Jersey ($119,625) will survey and digitally map derelict crab traps located in the state’s Mullica River-Great Bay Estuary and Greater Egg Harbor Estuary. Funding will also help local crabbers and community members recover and recycle derelict crab traps. The university also plans to conduct community outreach to recreational boaters and crabbers to help them avoid trap buoys and properly set their own traps.
• The Nature Conservancy ($55,775) will collaborate with the Quileute Indian Tribe to build on existing marine debris programs on the outer coast of Washington state around Destruction Island to remove derelict fishing gear and other marine debris from coastal waters. This will restore habitats and improve safety for vessels using these waterways.
• Island Trails Network, Alaska ($128,510) will remove and analyze the composition of nearly 60,000 pounds of debris from remote Shuyak Island Park, part of the Kodiak Archipelago and one of the largest remaining marine debris deposits in the western Gulf of Alaska. Shuyak Island is rich in biodiversity and provides critical habitat to many species of nesting birds, harbor seals and other marine life.
• Scuba Dogs Society ($29,989) plans to improve coastal and marine habitat around Loiza, Puerto Rico, by removing 10 metric tons of debris using a large volunteer force. These efforts will be coupled with outreach and education activities, including a competition to build five recycling stations for communities, businesses and schools.
• Coastal Cleanup Corporation ($35,000) will work with volunteers to remove debris from Biscayne National Park, located off the southern tip of Florida, to protect and maintain endangered loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting habitat and foraging grounds.
• North Carolina Coastal Federation ($93,047) will expand a pilot project to remove derelict fishing gear from Albemarle, Currituck, Pamlico and Roanoke sounds by improving the techniques for detecting derelict fishing gear, expanding existing crab pot collection and increasing their existing partnerships with crab fishermen.
• Mariana Islands Nature Alliance ($110,000) will help reduce beach litter and raise awareness of marine debris by placing trash and recycling bins around islands at popular beach spots for locals and tourists. They will also develop curriculum for the islands’ first through sixth grade students in Chamorro and Carolinian, the local languages.
• University of California, Davis California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project ($170,000) works with commercial Dungeness crab fishermen to recover tons of lost fishing gear from California waters. This project expands their work with commercial fishermen in California to recover lost and abandoned crab pots, and begins a gear buy-back program to lessen the source of future potential debris.