NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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ADVs and the Gulf of Mexico

Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a type of large marine debris that is a problem throughout the country. ADVs can be aesthetically unappealing, but can also create real problems by damaging important habitat, creating hazards to navigation and recreation, leaking pollutants into the environment, and impacting fisheries resources. Vessels can become derelict in a variety of ways, such as being abandoned by their owner after acquiring damage or sunk during a severe storm. Unfortunately, this type of debris can be extremely difficult and costly to remove, often making it difficult to address.

Derelict vessels in Galveston Bay, Texas.

Derelict vessels in Galveston Bay, Texas. (Photo Credit: Galveston Bay Foundation)

ADVs are particularly a problem in the Gulf of Mexico, especially due to the many severe storms in this region. ADVs and dilapidated docks remain along numerous rivers and tributaries that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these debris items are a direct result of storms including Hurricanes Ivan in 2004, Katrina and Rita in 2005, Ike in 2008, and Isaac in 2012. Unfortunately, this effect of these storms is not fully understood by many and it is an all too common practice in this region for boat owners to anchor their vessels in river systems prior to hurricane landfalls. Those boats can then lose their moorings and drift into marshes and stream banks from the strong winds, currents, and flooding that accompany these storms.

To address this problem in the Gulf region, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) has funded projects specifically to remove ADVs, including efforts in Dog River and Bayou la Batre, Alabama. Currently, the MDP is funding a project in Galveston Bay, Texas to remove large debris items such as ADVs. Unfortunately, there are still many ADVs that the MDP is not able to address due to costs and removal difficulties. For this reason, the MDP created the ADV InfoHub, which details how to address ADVs and provides avenues for removal in each coastal state. The ADV InfoHub also contains case studies and law reviews available for all Gulf States. In addition, the MDP has been involved in the creation of incident waterway response guides in both Florida and Alabama. These guides are meant to improve preparedness for response to and recovery from severe marine debris events by outlining existing responsibilities and procedures in one document for easy reference.

For more on ADVs, check out the ADV InfoHub on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website and keep your eye on our Gulf of Mexico regional page for more on marine debris efforts in the Gulf region.


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The Removal of the F/V Western

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

On December 21st, the F/V Western was pulled out of the water near the Empire Dock in Coos Bay, Oregon. The sunken vessel was brought to land and later disposed of, thus ending a long journey that started 82 years earlier. Unlike some abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs), we know a lot about the F/V Western’s history thanks to Toni Mirosevich, a Professor at San Francisco State University and the daughter of Anthony Mirosevich, the captain and owner of the F/V Western for twenty years.

In 1934, when the world was gripped by the Great Depression, a graceful, wood hulled, 69-foot long boat was launched in Tacoma, Washington. The vessel was purchased by the Mirosevich family from Everett, WA in 1945, named Western Maid, and set sail for salmon fishing in Alaska. In 1965, after Anthony Mirosevich passed away, his family sold the boat. At some point, it was converted to a crab fishing vessel and its name was changed to Western.

Over the years the boat’s condition deteriorated. It sank twice– once in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and the second time near Coos Bay, OR. In both instances, it was raised and given a new life. In 2015, the boat sank for the third and last time, adjacent to the Empire Dock in Coos Bay. It was located near a shipping lane and in an environmentally-sensitive area, so the F/V Western had to be removed to prevent additional environmental harm. The Oregon State Marine Board led the removal project, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of State Land and the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Billeter Marine, a local marine salvage contractor, conducted the removal.

The story of the F/V Western is unique, but not unusual. Boats, long past their prime, eventually sink, and their removal is challenging and costly. As part of the project, and to facilitate prevention of ADVs in Oregon, the Oregon State Marine Board in collaboration with Oregon Sea Grant initiated the ADV Task Force. The Task Force brings together many partners including port and marina managers, vessel owners, and fishermen to identify strategies to prevent commercial fishing vessels from becoming large and expensive pieces of marine debris. The ADV Task Force will draft a report that includes the group’s process, challenges, options for prevention, and recommendations. In addition, this project is creating an inventory of commercial fishing vessels along the Oregon coast that need to be removed. Using a matrix developed by the Columbia River Derelict Vessel Task Force, the inventory will include vessel location, ownership information, history, and condition to facilitate ADV removal in Oregon.

Hopefully the enduring legacy of the F/V Western will be the long-lasting benefits that the ADV Task Force will provide to Oregon and possibly to other states who face the persistent challenge of abandoned and derelict vessels.

For more information on this removal project, check out the project profile on the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website.


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Abandoned Vessels in the Rouge River: Removing Debris in the Great Lakes

The NOAA Marine Debris Program 10 year anniversary identity marker.

 

Over the years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, there have been many efforts around the country to rid our waters and shores of marine debris. As part of our ten-year anniversary celebration, let’s take a look back at one of those efforts in our Great Lakes region.

Fordson Island, in the Lower Rouge River, is located near Detroit, Michigan, and was the site of some pretty neat removal efforts back in 2011. The area actually has some cool history which you can read more about here. The shore of Fordson Island, which hosts some of the last remaining undeveloped habitat in a very industrialized area, was unfortunately the site of a lot of marine debris, most notably abandoned and derelict vessels.

A river and shore with abandoned and derelict vessels, and then the same site with no derelict vessels.

The site on Fordson Island prior to and after marine debris removal. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

To address this issue, the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority (DWCPA) was awarded a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant as well as funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. With help from Friends of the Rouge, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), and AKT Peerless Environmental & Energy Services, the DWCPA then set out to remove these abandoned vessels from the Rouge River.

This project culminated with 21 boats removed from the channel and near-shore area of Fordson Island. These boats and the additional surface debris that was collected totaled approximately 122 tons of debris removed from this area. In response, the local community came together to continue the effort by scheduling five volunteer events and going on to remove over 365 cubic yards of debris from the island.

A derelict vessel is removed with an excavator on Fordson Island. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

A derelict vessel is removed from the Rouge River. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

For more information on this project, check out this old blog post or the project profile on our website.


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Cooperative Efforts Result in the Removal of Abandoned Vessels and Other Debris from the Historic Charleston Harbor

By: Sarah Latshaw, Southeast Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Charleston Harbor just got a facelift, with 10 abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) removed from its waterways and shoreline earlier this month. After being abandoned by their owners, many of these boats had been stuck for years, slowly deteriorating in the marsh, because of a lack of funding for removal and salvage efforts. Some of these ADVs were environmental concerns, causing damage to the shoreline and grasses or becoming dumping sites for other boaters’ trash; others posed a threat to navigation, and most were eyesores for this charming, historic city.

This removal effort was led by the SC Sea Grant Consortium, through support from a NOAA Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant. Through a collaborative effort, the SC Sea Grant Consortium partnered with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control – Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (SCDHEC-OCRM), the City of Charleston, and Charleston City Marina to haul off 68 tons of sailboats, motorboats, and an old houseboat. In addition, approximately 10 tons of marine debris (primarily unwanted fishing and boating gear) was collected and disposed of during a county-wide Clean Marine event this past April.

In the coming months, several more vessels will be removed and another Clean Marine event will be held. By the end of the project, approximately 100 tons of debris will be taken out of the Charleston Harbor watershed, giving it a healthy and fresh new look. For more on the project, check out the project webpage.


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The NOAA Marine Debris Program Launches the New ADV InfoHub!

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce the launch of our new ADV InfoHub, to serve as a center for information on abandoned and derelict vessels, or “ADVs.”

ADVs are a type of marine debris that threatens the environment, navigation, and economies. They can be found in ports and waterways all over the country and come from a variety of sources including storms and owner neglect. Unfortunately, they are also a type of marine debris that can be very difficult and expensive to remove. The removal of an ADV often requires extensive financial and technical resources. Additionally, the legislation surrounding the removal of ADVs can be a tricky topic to navigate because it is different for every state.

That’s where the new ADV InfoHub comes in. This new resource provides a central source of information regarding ADVs and the policies surrounding them. Users can access information on each coastal state, including details on legislation, funding, and information about available ADV Programs, as well as links to relevant publications, case studies, and legal reviews. Information is also provided on which agency to contact for more information on abandoned vessels in each state. The ADV InfoHub was developed with input from our state partners and as a dynamic resource, it will continue to be updated as new information and materials are received. Our aim is that it proves to be a useful resource for the coastal communities impacted by this problem.

Check out the new ADV InfoHub to learn more about abandoned and derelict vessels!

(Photo Credit: Oregon State Marine Board)

Learn all about ADVs by visiting the new ADV InfoHub on the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website. (Photo Credit: Oregon State Marine Board)


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Cleaning Up the Marine Mess After Owners Abandon Ship

Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a form of marine debris that has been occurring with increasing frequency. ADVs can be a major environmental, navigational, and economic problem, not to mention an eye sore. For these reasons, it is often desirable to remove them as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, removing these neglected vessels—often underwater or barely afloat—is not straight-forward. Abandoned vessels can contain hazardous materials, such as oil, paints, and lubricants, which can leak into the surrounding environment. They may be located in difficult to reach areas or in deep waters, requiring large, specialized equipment to lift and transport the vessels and, with or without these complications, removal costs can be high. While some long-lost vessels have special historic value or are even part of a marine sanctuary, most of the vessels we’re talking about today are much less glamorous and much more problematic—cast off by their owners or victims of past natural disasters, plaguing shallow coastal waters and decaying from years of neglect.

The laws and regulations dealing with ADVs can also be complicated, as they differ from state to state, delineating matters from what vessels can be removed to what happens when an individual wants to claim one. Gaining proper authority to remove abandoned vessels can thus be tricky. Even though several states (California, Florida, Maryland and Washington) have dedicated funding and established programs to address abandoned and derelict vessels, removing ADVs continues to be an expensive and complicated process and can require a good deal of collaboration among government agencies at various levels. The NOAA Marine Debris Program will be launching an ADV InfoHub later this week that will provide a central location to help navigate this complicated issue.

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Despite the challenges, there’s a lot of work going on across the country to address the issue of ADVs. The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) supports a number of ADV removal projects through our removal grants, such as efforts by the Coral Bay Community Council in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where nine vessels are being removed from the shallow waters of Coral Bay, prioritized by their potential to cause future environmental damage. Also supported by the NOAA MDP, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium is removing approximately 22-26 tons of ADVs (13 total) from the Charleston Harbor watershed and LagoonKeepers.org plans to remove 31 ADVs by June 2016 in Palm Beach County, Florida. In Dog River, Alabama, a project supported by the MDP and led by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab wrapped up late last year and removed 90 vessels! Additionally, there has been substantial work done in Northeastern states to remove ADVs lost as a result of the massive 2012 storm known as Sandy.

These are just some of the many ADV efforts aimed at reducing the negative impacts of ADVs on our coasts. For more on ADVs, check out NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration’s (OR&R) recent blog post. For more information on what’s being done by the MDP, check out our website. You can also learn about other ways NOAA’s OR&R is involved here.


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Southeast Region: Marine Debris Removal

By: Leah Henry

We have been working on several marine debris projects to remove debris and better understand some of the effects it has on our coastal systems. Here are a few recent projects from the southeast region:

North Carolina Coastal Federation removes derelict crab pots and re-purposes them to create oyster habitat and revitalize an economically essential fishery.

Checkout NCCF’s crab pot removal project video

LagoonKeepers.org improves the quality of Palm Beach County’s estuarine, coastal, and near-shore marine ecosystems through derelict and sunken boat removal.

South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium removes derelict vessels and other marine debris using community-based collaboration.

To learn more about NOAA Marine Debris Program removal projects visit our website.