Huge, swirling masses of plastic waste; dead zones from terrestrial run-off of fertilizer, industrial effluents and untreated municipal sewage; toxic oil spills, dwindling wild fish stocks, ocean acidification from greenhouse gas emissions and its implications at the base of the marine food web – the worrisome, myriad effects of human activities on the world’s oceans are getting a lot of media play, and justifiably so.
Reaching out to and engaging local communities, a mix of NGOs, Native American tribes, academic groups and government agencies aim to do some cleaning up of our nation’s shorelines and coastal waters. Eleven groups across the country have received $967,000 in funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Habitat Conservation and Restoration Center.
Local groups restoring coastal and marine habitats
NOAA’s funding supports local, community efforts to “create long-term ecological improvements for coastal habitat, waterways and wildlife, including migratory fish.”
Typically lasting 24 months, this year’s 11 community marine habitat conservation and restoration efforts encompass a wide range of activities that will improve the local coastal and marine environment. These include removal of derelict vessels and fishing nets, litter, lumber, tires and “other harmful marine debris from shorelines and coastal waters,” NOAA explains in a press release.
This year’s recipients were chosen from a group of 46 applicants with combined requests totaling $5 million, “demonstrating the widespread need to address marine debris across the country,” according to NOAA. The agency has funded 76 marine debris removal projects that have resulted in the removal of over 3,800 metric tons of marine debris from the oceans and Great Lakes since 2006.
As NOAA Marine Debris Program director Nancy Wallace was quoted as saying,
“Marine debris plagues coastlines all over the country, and these communities have the expertise and motivation to address it. We are proud to support them as they work to mitigate impacts and address the damage marine debris has caused.”
NOAA’s Restoration Center is now accepting applications for the next funding cycle. Applications are due November 1.
As listed in NOAA’s press release, this year’s Marine Debris clean-up projects are:
Alabama: The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will remove derelict vessels and address habitat impairment in the Dog River Watershed in Mobile. ($99,766)
Alaska: The Alaska Marine Stewardship Foundation will conduct marine debris cleanups in five communities in the Bering Sea: Port Heiden, Nelson Lagoon, Nikolski, St. George and Savoonga. ($210,000) The Sitka Sound Science Center will perform cleanups of tsunami debris from Japan that impacted Alaskan coastlines. ($120,000)
California: The Wiyot Tribe of the Humboldt Bay region will remove large marine debris from the within bay and on Indian Island, a National Historic Landmark known for its importance as the site of the Wiyot World Renewal ceremony. ($125,000)
Florida: The Coastal Cleanup Corporation will remove plastics, glass, Styrofoam, rubber and discarded fishing gear from sea turtle nesting sites within Biscayne National Park. ($16,953)
Hawaii: The Hawaii Wildlife Fund will continue its work to remove marine debris from the shoreline of Big Island of Hawaii, focusing on the Ka’u coast. ($45,000) The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will remove debris from Kaho’olawe. ($100,530)
New York: Hofstra University will remove debris from one of the last remaining natural salt marshes in Nassau County, in collaboration with Long Beach School District and Town of Hempstead. ($75,000)
North Carolina: The North Carolina Coastal Federation will implement a pilot program working with commercial fishermen to remove derelict crab pots and repurpose them as artificial oyster reefs. ($35,576)
Puerto Rico: The Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary will remove litter from Condado Lagoon, one of two natural lagoons in Puerto Rico. ($40,000)
Washington: The Northwest Straits Foundation will continue its longstanding efforts to remove derelict fishing nets from Puget Sound and surrounding marine waters. ($99,995)
NOAA’s Marine Debris Program “leads national efforts to research, prevent and reduce the impacts of marine debris. Its staff, which is positioned across the country, supports marine debris projects in partnership with state and local agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, academia and industry. The program also spearheads national research efforts and works to change behavior in the public through outreach and education initiatives.” Visit their website for more information.