By: Grace Chon, Pacific Islands Assistant Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
On August 2, 2015, Typhoon Soudelor struck the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) as a Category 2 typhoon directly over Saipan. The storm brought winds near 105 mph, heavy rains and coastal inundation. Unfortunately, this also means an increase in marine debris.
Previous to Soudelor, the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), a nonprofit organization located in Saipan, was awarded funding through the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s (MDP) Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant competition; they have since been actively involved in cleaning their island and recovering from this natural disaster. Even with limited electricity and water, MINA has conducted 17 cleanups, recruited 121 volunteers, and collected 13,123 pounds of marine debris! MINA was previously funded by the MDP through a grant in 2010 to install seven recycling bins, each with the capacity to hold three 55 gallon drums and made of weather resistant material, to promote an island culture of recycling. All seven bins weathered the typhoon well and with this new grant, MINA will be installing an additional seven bins while developing a targeted education and outreach campaign.
MINA continues to restore the island at great strides and address the issue of marine debris while recovering from the damages left by Typhoon Soudelor. To find out more about the Pacific Islands Region or learn about how severe weather events can impact marine debris, visit our website.