Professional fishers and diver services are often needed to remove lost fishing gear from both commercial and recreational harvesters along the outer coast, in rivers and inland waters, but a larger issue is marine debris washing up along sparsely populated coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest from all across the Pacific Rim. The latter is testimony to the global nature of the marine debris problem, NOAA officials said.
Volunteers remove most of the debris from remote and largely inaccessible coastal areas. Fall and winter weather conditions bring more of it on the beaches, making removal more challenging.
One project from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at the College of William and Mary is working to reduce ecological and economic impacts associated with lost gear in coastal Washington and Alaska. The goal is to reduce ecological and economic impacts associated with lost gear by incorporating an innovative bio-hinge mechanism into Dungeness crab traps. The project is funded by a Fishing for Energy grant, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta and NOAA’s Marine Debris Program.
The Northwest Straits Foundation and its partners are in the midst of a three-year derelict crab pot survey and removal project supplemented with a targeted outreach campaign to recreational crabbers in Washington marine waters of the Salish Sea. The project, which runs through Nov. 30, 2021, directly addresses actions identified in the Puget Sound Lost Crab Pot Prevention Plan and in the Washington Marine Debris Action Plan.
A third marine debris removal project involves the University of Washington’s Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) in collaboration with the NOAA Marine Debris Program. The team is conducting shoreline monitoring field trials for evaluation and to update the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project and COASST marine debris monitoring protocols. This citizen scientist initiative engages both domestic and international volunteers in conducting standardized shoreline surveys for marine debris items larger than 2.5 centimeters.
In Alaska, a community-based marine debris removal grant that concluded in October worked to remove debris from more than 80 local beaches accessible from the road system on Kodiak Island. Volunteers gathered, sorted and measured debris to better understand the composition and trends of debris accumulating onshore. Island Trails Network, with support of a NOAA community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, worked with the local community at Kodiak.