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Large Scale Marine Debris Removal in Beaufort, NC.

First Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

Third Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

Second Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

TRASH TALK Special Feature

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine Debris Project Webinar – July 2019

Trash Counts

OceansLIVE! Talking Trash: A Call to Action

First Place Winner: 2019 Ohio PSA Competition

Second Place Winner: 2019 Ohio PSA Competition

North Carolina Coastal Federation and Fishermen: Crab Pot Project

First Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

Second Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

Third Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

NOAA Divers Free Green Sea Turtle from Net in Hawaii

NOAA Marine Debris Program Removal Webinar, April 2017

TRASH TALK: What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

First Place Winner: 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

Second Place Winner: 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

Third Place Winner: 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

First Place: 2016 “Communicating for a Clean Future” Marine Debris PSA Competition

Second Place: 2016 “Communicating for a Clean Future” Marine Debris PSA Competition

Third Place: 2016 “Communicating for a Clean Future” Marine Debris PSA Competition

DOC Talks: What We Can Do About Marine Debris

Tsunami Debris in California

Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean

Our Debris Filling the Sea

What is Marine Debris?

Marine Debris

TRASH TALK: Impacts of Marine Debris

TRASH TALK Webinar for Educators

TRASH TALK: What Can We Do About Marine Debris?

TRASH TALK: Marine Debris and Plastics

TRASH TALK: Where Does Marine Debris Come From?

TRASH TALK: What is Marine Debris?

Avoid the Trap: What Anglers Should Know about Commercial Fishing Nets

Large Scale Marine Debris Removal in Beaufort, NC.

Through a grant from NOAA's Marine Debris Program, N.C. Coastal Reserve, the Town of Beaufort, and TowBoatUS Beaufort removed thousands of tons of large scale marine debris and conducted an abandoned vessel clean-up. BoatUS Foundation documented this effort and highlights this amazing project's impact.


00:00 So I hope that you'll consider what the

00:02 work that's been done here and Beaufort

00:03 is kind of a benchmark for for other

00:05 things and the template that you can use

00:06 in other locations. (Rett Newton, Mayor of Beaufort, NC speaking) It's twofold right

00:09 you're cleaning up the waterways but

00:11 this is a public health issue and I

00:12 actually add a third isn't this good for

00:15 commerce wouldn't people want to come to

00:17 Beaufort to a clean water of coastal

00:19 community the answer is clearly yes. (Paula Gillikin, Central Site Manager speaking) to

00:21 undertake a project like this first you

00:24 need to understand the extent of the

00:26 problem so collecting data on the

00:28 problem understanding how much debris

00:30 there is and what the risk is to the

00:33 environment and people and then knowing

00:35 how many resources you need to address

00:37 that problem. We couldn't do a project

00:40 like this without great partnerships and

00:44 I think we have the best example of

00:47 partnership working well in the Beaufort

00:50 area with this project. We have the

00:53 coastal reserve and it's protected

00:56 Nature Reserve which is used as an

00:58 outdoor laboratory in an outdoor

01:00 classroom and we have overlapping waters

01:03 with the jurisdiction of the Town of

01:06 Beaufort. So we're both invested in the

01:09 issue for a lot of the same reasons.

01:11 We're both passionate about keeping our

01:14 environment beautiful and clean and

01:17 available for public use. (Lee Skykes, Atlantic Coast Marine Group, Inc. speaking) This project

01:21 showed how local organizers can reach

01:26 out within the community and find

01:28 various stakeholders that had unique

01:30 talents and skill sets to take an idea

01:34 and make it a viable project. And that's

01:37 what Beaufort did here. When the reserve

01:41 came to me and wanted me to get involved

01:44 with this project I said not only are we

01:46 gonna get involved from the operation

01:48 side but we're gonna get involved on the

01:50 money side too. In return we matched a

01:52 lot of money to help pull this off

01:54 because this was a big project. (Dr. Liz DeMattia, Research Scientist speaking) It's been

01:57 really fun to work with NOAA on this

02:00 project because our students can pick up

02:03 small pieces of debris but as the larger

02:06 abandoned derelict vessels

02:08 and other pieces that our students can't

02:11 pick up but that we all see when we walk

02:13 on the beaches or walk in downtown

02:15 Beaufort, this partnership allows greater

02:18 resources to take some of those out and

02:21 actually clean up our beaches from some

02:23 of the bigger things that we as

02:25 individual citizens can't do. (Lee Skykes, Atlantic Coast Marine Group, Inc. speaking) The risk

02:29 and dangers involved in a project like

02:31 this are kinda at every stage. You've got

02:34 guys underneath the water working you're

02:36 taking an item that is decomposing so

02:40 it's not as structurally intact so when

02:43 it comes up something may break and

02:45 separate. And then once you successfully

02:47 get it to the surface then you have to

02:49 get it ashore and the towing operation

02:52 of towing a partially submerged boat or

02:54 towing a piece of a boat presents its

02:57 own risk. Then when you go to shore side

02:59 trying to crane this out and a lot of

03:02 these vessels if you can just imagine in

03:05 your head that it's like wet cardboard.

03:06 So when you go to take the load it kind

03:09 of settles in the straps and it moves on

03:12 you a little bit and then you have to go

03:14 through the dismantling and disposing of

03:17 it. (Dr. Liz DeMattia, Research Scientist speaking) And some of the derelict vessels and

03:21 big pieces can pollute, right, so rubber

03:24 overtime those smaller pieces of plastic

03:27 and break up into smaller pieces of

03:29 plastic and that can enter our food

03:31 chain. Getting rid of the bigger pieces

03:33 not only improves the beauty of the area

03:37 but also decreases the probability that

03:39 any of the pollutants will break up and

03:42 enter our food chain in the ocean.

03:44 (Paula Gillikin, Central Site Manager speaking) Vessels are a problem for people they're

03:47 problem for the water and they're

03:48 problem for a wildlife. (Lee Skykes, Atlantic Coast Marine Group, Inc. speaking) I've got two

03:51 little kids they like to swim and play

03:53 on the island over there, I don't want

03:55 them getting cut up on debris there's a

03:58 lot of families that are using these

03:59 shorelines and using these waters. (Kyle Garner, Planning & Inspections speaking) We've

04:02 been extremely pleased we had no idea

04:04 that we'd be this successful this short

04:07 of time into the project. We've removed

04:09 thousands of pounds of debris as well

04:12 some abandoned vessels. We're already

04:15 starting to hear positive comments from

04:16 our community and the budding community.

04:18 (Rett Newton, Mayor of Beaufort, NC speaking) A large part of this is the education

04:22 just making sure that they understand

04:23 sometimes marine debris can be out of

04:25 sight out of mind but it doesn't mean

04:26 it's not there

04:27 doesn't mean that it's not impacting us.

04:29 (Paula Gillikin, Central Site Manager speaking) We want to bring the public out to the

04:31 Nature Reserve out to the Rachel Carson

04:33 Reserve and have them participate in

04:36 marine debris cleanups, have them

04:38 invested as a part of the project so

04:42 that they understand marine debris

04:43 issues better, and we'll go home and

04:46 think about perhaps the products that

04:49 they're using that can contribute to

04:51 marine debris. Start at home securing

04:54 your debris in the proper way.

04:56 Making sure it's not overflowing in your

04:58 recycling bin think about the things

05:00 that you use in your home and instead of

05:02 putting those vegetables in a plastic

05:04 bag at the grocery store try just

05:06 putting them in a reusable bag and then

05:08 you won't have to worry about that bag

05:09 getting away from you. (Rett Newton, Mayor of Beaufort, NC speaking) You’ve got the federal level

05:12 you've got the state level you've got

05:13 the municipal level and you've got

05:15 commercial entities and you've got

05:17 academic entities that are involved as

05:19 well.

05:19 And this is all part of a clean water

05:21 coastal community.


First Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the first place winner for the 2020 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.  


Imagine visiting Lake Erie just like the millions of others seeking entertainment and relaxation. Through Canada and the U.S alone, 12 million people rely on clean drinking water from the lake...Does this look enjoyable to swim in?... Does this make you feel relaxed?... Unfortunately, this is the modern day reality of water conditions in Lake Erie. One of the biggest problems in our lake is human pollution. Over a hundred million pieces of plastic are estimated to be floating around, invading Lake Erie. Plastic litter from humans ends up traveling up the food chain from animals eating it, to it seeping in toxic chemicals to our organs. The build up of pollution in our lake is causing very serious consequences to our ecosystem. Plastic and litter get lodged into fishs' bodies causing many organisms to die. Pollution from farmers causes runoff which also leads to algae in our lake. However, there is something we can all do to slow down the pollution rate. We can use reusable water bottles, metal straws, throw away garbage properly, eliminate plastic usage, and do cleanups on the beach. These are all small steps everyone can take to help make Lake Erie's water conditions healthy. 

Third Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the third place winner for the 2020 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.  


Marine debris is a subject that is constantly being discussed and dealt with in all bodies of water. It is human created waste that harms the environment and the animals living in the lakes. Around the world, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris floating in the oceans. This acts as a serious threat towards not only the people who benefit from the beautiful waters, but also to the animals that inhabit it. More than 3,500 different species live in the Great Lakes, all of whom depend on clean water to thrive. We all need to take action by cleaning the bodies of water so we do not see the harsh consequences that our planet will suffer from. Some easy ways we can work together to solve this problem are by using reusable water bottles and bags. Be part of the solution, not the pollution! 

Second Place Winner: 2020 Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the second place winner for the 2020 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.  


“Only we humans make waste that nature can't digest." - Captain Charles Moore 

Marine Debris is solid material that has been disposed of or abandoned into the marine 

environment or the Great Lakes. 

Plastic makes up about 80% of the marine debris in the Great Lakes. 

Microplastic is extremely small, broken down plastic debris. It poses a large threat to the Great 


Microplastic severely harms animals in and around the lakes. 

What can we do to help? 

Organize a beach cleanup. 

Recycle. Keep as much plastic out of the water as you can. 

Keep our Great Lakes Clean. 

Lake Erie Love 

TRASH TALK Special Feature

Don’t you think it’s time we all have an honest trash talk? Ocean Today, in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, presents TRASH TALK, a 15-minute special feature on marine debris for World Ocean Day.  

This feature video includes the TRASH TALK video shorts What is Marine Debris?, Where Does Marine Debris Come From?, Impacts of Marine Debris, Marine Debris and Plastics, What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?, and What Can We Do About Marine Debris?

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine Debris Project Webinar – July 2019

On July 24, 2019, the NOAA Marine Debris Program hosted a NOAA Science Seminar. James Morioka, with the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, presented on the 2018 Marine Debris Removal and Assessment in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a large-scale mission to survey and remove marine debris from the islands and atolls of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Over the course of 41 days, two ships, and with the support of a shore-based mission, the team was able to successfully remove over 74 metric tons (164,000 lbs) of derelict fishing gear, plastic, and other marine debris from the shallow coral reef and shoreline environments. This webinar provides an overview of the project’s history, survey, and removal methods, recent research, and future missions.

About the Speaker:
James Morioka is the Operations Manager for the Ecosystem Sciences Division (ESD) at NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). He specializes in project planning, logistics, and field operations. He has been with NOAA PIFSC since 2011 and has managed large-scale marine debris removal operations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands since 2015. 


Introduction and chatter before the presentation begins.

MaryLee- Everybody, we will get started in just a few min.

Tracy -Looks like we have a good turnout today, 33 people. I wish there was 133 people James, you have such a cool slide deck. Can you tell I’m a fan?

James- Yes, very excited to be here

MaryLee – I’m going to wait one more moment.

Tracy -Can you hear MaryLee as well as you can hear me?

MaryLee- Ok, let’s get started. Good morning and good afternoon to you depending on where you are. I want to welcome you to NOAA s NOS science seminar. The goal of this seminar is to communicate and discuss a variety of coastal and marine topics of interest to NOAA and to the coastal and marine community. My name is MaryLee Haughwout and I’m with the Marine Debris Program and I’m cohosting this seminar with Tracy Gill who’s the coordinator for the NOAA NOS Science seminar series. I want to thank Tracy for all your help pulling this seminar together as this is the first time I’ve been using Adobe connect and leading the science seminar.

Before I introduce our speaker today, I want to get though a few housekeeping items. The audio for today’s event is over your computer speakers. We will have time for questions at the end of the presentation. You are welcome to enter your questions into the chat box during the talk but we will not address the questions until the end. If you’re interested in getting a PDF copy or a recording of today’s presentation you can contact me, at or, our email addresses are in the chat box. And we would be happy to send you a copy and if you are also interested in being on the subscription list for the NOAA weekly science seminar email list, you can contact Tracy gill she will add you.

So without further ado, I’m going to introduce our speaker. I’m very excited to have James Morioka as our guest speaker today. James will be discussing the 2018 Marine Debris removal and assessment in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands within in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. James is the Operations Manager of the Ecosystems Sciences division at the NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center in Hawaii. Where he specializes in project planning, logistics, and field operations. James has been with NOAA Fisheries since 2011 and has managed large-scale marine debris removal operations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands since 2015. So welcome James and thank you for all your hard work you put into this presentation. And I’m going to turn it over to you, so take it away.

James begins his presentation

(Numbers below correspond to the slide number in the PowerPoint presentation)

  1. Aloha to all those tuning in from Hawaii and hello to all those tuning in from across the United States. Thank you very much for having me, and thank you MaryLee for the introduction….(next slide)…As MaryLee mentioned, my name is James Morioka and I am the Operations Manager for the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Ecosystem Sciences Division in Honolulu, HI. And today, I have the privilege of sharing with you a project I am very passionate about. Many of you in the audience today have been tremendous supporters of this project over the years, and for that, we are very thankful.
  2. Today, I’ll be presenting in detail, the ins and outs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine Debris Project: a survey, assessment, and removal operation at the islands and atolls of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. I’ll be going over background information on the Hawaiian Islands and why Marine Debris is so prevalent here, the Project History, our Survey and Removal methods, highlights and accomplishments from the 2018 field mission, on-going research, what we’ve got in store for the future, and at the end, I’ll be taking questions pertaining to this project.
  3. Before I get started, I wanted to thank and acknowledge all of our project partners that make this project possible. Our partners include the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Nets-to-Energy or Fishing-for-Energy program Schnitzer Steel and H-Power Covanta, the University of Hawaii, the NOAA Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument program, US Fish and Wildlife Services, the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, SatLink Global, and of course, all of the Co-trustees of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument including the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
  4. Quick background information on the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian archipelago is centrally located in the North Pacific Ocean, in the middle of the world’s largest gyre, the North Pacific Gyre. This gyre is made up of a system of ocean currents and oceanographic factors, and moves large bodies of water, and subsequently marine debris, around the Pacific Rim, from East Asia, the Aleutian Islands, the Pacific Northwest, and the Equator. In the middle of this gyre lies the Hawaiian Islands, made up of the 8 Main Hawaiian Islands, and the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the world’s largest contiguous marine protected area, encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the water around them, and is more than 2 times the size of the state of Texas. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to 70% of shallow water coral reef habitat in the United States, and is home to more than 7,000 marine species, a quarter of which are endemic, or found only in Hawaii. The most important protected species are the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtle, and the humpback whale.
  5. Here are a few photos of the beautiful islands and reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. You have your beautiful low-lying islands and islets, reticulated coral reefs located within ancient atolls, the turquoise blue shallow sandy lagoon areas, and your beautiful stretches of white sand beaches.
  6. And at these beautiful islands and atolls, is rich, diverse, marine wildlife. From your Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, reef fish, vibrant coral reefs….(next slide)… to your resident spinner dolphins, schools of sharks, and charismatic seabirds. And if you’ve ever been up to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, you know it is nature as it’s intended to be, wild and raw. On the bottom right, you can see a large tiger shark, a couple of feet from the beach, about to pick off a Laysan Albatross fledgling chick.
  7. But as I mentioned before, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands lie in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre. And within this gyre, debris from all across the Pacific swirls around and concentrates in convergence zones, or what they may refer to as garbage patches. But these aren’t patches of garbage that make up floating islands. This is more like debris soup, an area with a higher concentration of debris than the rest of the open ocean….(next slide)… And these high density, high concentration areas are then affected by many different factors that make Hawaii so susceptible to being on the receiving end for large deposits of debris on our shorelines and reefs. Such factors include your powerful northeast trade winds, which are prominent here in the Hawaiian Islands. …(next slide)…. Large swell, predominantly from the North – northwest during our winter months… (next slide)… and of course, we here in Hawaii are very susceptible to storms, such as hurricanes and tropical storms. And this is amplified during El Nino years, where the water warms in the North Pacific causing a shift in the North Pacific subtropical high, bringing warm water and debris closer towards the islands. The warm waters also tend to cause storms to develop closer to the islands of Hawaii, and storms to travel towards Hawaii… (next slide)… And all of these factors ultimately cause the marine debris issue to amplify in the Hawaiian Islands. These Hawaiian Islands, then act as a comb, to filter out all of this floating debris.
  8. As you can see on this map, the islands, atolls, islets, reefs, and seamounts that make up the Hawaiian archipelago extend wide, some 1500 miles across the North Pacific Ocean. This is more than half the distance across the continental U.S. That’s a lot of area….. (next slide)…. On your right you have your 8 Main Hawaiian Islands, and to the left you have the VERY different islands, atolls, shoals, seamounts, and reefs that make up the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They are different in shape, structure, and habitat which make them even more susceptible to marine debris accumulation.
  9. For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the geology of the Hawaiian Islands, I’ll take just a minute to describe it. The Hawaiian Islands literally emerged from the seas. The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. The Hawaiian Islands developed as the Pacific tectonic plate moved slowly northwest over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. The hot spot is fixed, but the plate is moving. So the island of Hawaii, or the Big Island, currently sits atop the hotspot, and has live volcanic activity. The other islands which have moved slowly northwest are older islands, no longer with active volcanoes.
  10. From the Main Hawaiian Islands to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, all of the islands and atolls you see today were once formed by volcanoes….(next slide)…the Big Island being the youngest at about 400,000 years old, and Kure Atoll being the oldest at about 28 million years old.
  11. And just as the volcanoes emerged out of the sea, over time, the older islands have also subsided, or sunk, back into the ocean, often turning into shallow reefs or atolls around the area where a volcanic island once was. And the older islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, such as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have formed atolls, shoals, and other expansive reef areas. If you look at the graphic on your screen, you’ll see how an atoll is formed. The volcano emerges out of the ocean, corals begin to settle and grow around the island forming a fringing reef expanding over the next 100,000 years, and as the reef expands, the interior island begins to subside, and the fringing reef turns into a barrier reef. When the island completely subsides beneath the water, it leaves a ring of growing coral with an open shallow lagoon in the center, and the formation to an atoll is complete.
  12. You can see a perfect example here in the picture of Pearl and Hermes Atoll, where you can distinctively see the barrier reef, and the shallow lagoon within it. **This distinctive feature of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands make them extremely susceptible to accumulating entangling marine debris like derelict fishing nets. Unlike the Main Hawaiian Islands, which have a steep incline of reef from the depths to the surface, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands stretch far with shallow water coral reef habitats between 0-20 feet. That’s why the marine debris often accumulates on shore in the Main Hawaiian Islands, and on the reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. To give you a visual, in all of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, there is about 15 square kilometers of emergent land area. That’s about the size of Los Angeles International Airport, LAX. But there is about 350 square kilometers of reef area between 0-20 feet deep. That’s 20 times larger than the area of emergent land. And we are only talking reef area between the depths of 0-20 feet.
  13. And because of that, 52 metric tons of floating derelict fishing gear accumulates on the reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands annually. And when these islands and atolls are comprised of very sensitive ecosystems, that sustain and perpetuate tons of marine wildlife, you have to do what you can to protect it. You folks have probably heard of the 3 R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We like to teach the 5 Rs. The first R is the first line of defense, to Refuse. But the fifth R, that’s where we come into play… Remove. With so much wildlife depending on these essential keystone habitats, there needs to be constant maintenance and cleaning to make sure the healthy reef and ecosystem can thrive. And that’s why this project plays such an important role in the success and health of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. So how does marine debris affect the NWHI? The 4 main ones we are concerned about are entanglement of marine mammals, turtles, and fish…. Ingestion of debris whether that is seabirds, turtles, seals, or other marine wildlife…. Habitat damage such as the destruction of live vibrant reefs from derelict fishing gear…. and the introduction of non-native species through travelling marine debris.
  14. Here are a couple of photos of what we’ve observed over the years.
  15. And here are some photos we’ve snapped of wildlife entangled or engaging in direct contact with derelict fishing gear.
  16. So this project, the NWHI Marine Debris Project got its start back in 1996 when monk seal and turtle researchers stationed in field camps across the NWHI observed copious amounts of marine debris. They also were the first to see first-hand, the alarming rate of entanglement of wildlife in derelict fishing gear. The first full marine debris season kicked off in 1999, starting with 3 separate ships deployed concurrently for 120 days. In 2006, the President announced that the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument be created to protect the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the surrounding waters. And by 2006, the heavy lifting for debris removal was said to be complete, the backlog of derelict fishing gear on the reef was said to be cleared, and removal operations were scaled back to maintenance mode, which was to annually remove the 52 metric tons of debris from the reefs, which it is estimated to accumulate each year. In the 20 years of the project, we’ve removed over 922 metric tons or 2 million lbs of debris and help disentangle countless animals.
  17. In a recent study, they mentioned that 28% of the 1,400 remaining critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals alive today are because of marine debris removals, disentanglements, and rehabilitation efforts.
  18. Now I will discuss our survey and removal methods for removing debris in-water and on land. Our project focuses primarily on derelict fishing gear removal from shallow coral reef environments between 0-30 feet deep. We survey and remove debris in-water using two methods, 1). Tow-board or towed diver, and 2). Traditional swim. For land, we follow standard NOAA Marine Debris Program protocols.
  19. For tow-board surveys, or towed-diver surveys, we use a 17-19’ inflatable boat to tow a team of freedivers, or snorkelers, at 1-2 knots, 50 feet behind the boat. The divers use breath-hold techniques, not scuba, and wooden boards to fly through the water to rapidly visually survey for nets. Using the boards our divers are able to move quickly left and right, up and down, through the water to effectively survey the most area.
  20. This is used most predominately in the back-reef areas of fringing reefs….(next slide)… The waves typically have enough energy to bring the floating nets over the deeper forereef and into the backreef before it gets caught up.
  21. This is an example of how we conduct towboard surveys….(next slide)….First we use a program called ArcGIS and benthic habitat maps to identify how much surveyable reef area between 0-30 feet each island and atoll has, focusing on the shallower areas of reef where the floating nets tend to get caught up…(next slide)…. Then we establish our survey area, by creating a survey polygon or box, with an area of 0.25 square km. Please note that the box on this slide is not to scale… (next slide)… We deploy our team of divers and maneuver the small boat through the shallow survey area. We use a pattern similar to “mowing the lawn” …(next slide)  Once a net is identified, data is collected, the net is cut safely off of the reef to prevent further damage, and the survey continues. …(next slide)… the survey will continue until the survey area is complete or the boat is full of net
  22. Here is an example of what the spatial data looks like after a field mission. Each track line is set at 15m wide, which is the minimum visibility criteria for our two divers. This ensures accurate representation and calculation of our survey area. You can see that all measures are taken to ensure complete survey and maximum net removal.
  23. For swim surveys, the boat team helps direct freedivers to navigate through and around patch reef areas to swim, survey, and find net.
  24. This is a picture of the patch reef area at Pearl and Hermes Atoll… (next slide)… similarily to the towboard surveys, the survey area is created (next slide until divers) and the divers are deployed. …(next slide)… once deployed, the divers swim side by side in a zig-zag pattern, covering the reef area…(next slide)… they will continue to swim until they find a net… (next slide)… just like the other method, once a net is identified, data is collected, the net is cut safely off the reef, and the survey continues until the survey area is complete or the boat is full of net….(next slide)…. Once the survey is complete, the survey area is calculated and the net locations are mapped using our GPS tracks and waypoints.
  25. This is the spatial data from this year’s tow and swim surveys at Pearl and Hermes Atoll… (next slide)… here’s a close up…(next slide)…. And here are the locations of the 315 net cluster removed.
  26. For both in-water methods, once the net is identified, data is collected on the net such as net type, size, volume, fouling, coral growth, as well as habitat data such as depth and benthic composition (% coral, macro-algae, turf algae, crustose coralline algae, sand, etc). Then the dive teams breath hold dive to safely cut and remove the net without damaging the reef. The nets are then manually hauled into the small boats until the boats are full. Once full, the nets are craned out of the boats onto the ship.
  27. Here are some pictures of the process. In your top left you have a net on the reef, a team of divers carefully removing the net, a boat team hauling the large net into the deck of the boat, and the ship craning the net load out of the boat onto the ship.
  28. Land debris is straight forward. The team accesses the beach via small boat, the team is deployed on land, they storm the beach, and all of the nets and other entanglement hazards are removed from the shoreline. The debris is loaded onto the boats and offloaded onto the ship similarly to the in-water debris.
  29. Play debris video. I’d like to show a quick 2 minute video of the survey and removal process.
  30. In 2018, we had a 41-day mission in September-October 2018, which was 3 part, on two separate ships with a shore-based mission in-between. In total we yielded over 164,000 lbs, or over 74 metric tons of debris removed.
  31. The mission commenced on September 19, with Leg 1 aboard the NOAA research vessel, Oscar Elton Sette. It was staffed with 17 divers and coxswains – coxswains are folks that drive the boats, 1 UAS pilot, and 1 data manager. It focused exclusively on in-water removal operations at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and 2.23 square km of shallow reef area was surveyed and cleaned, resulting in over 51,000 lbs of derelict fishing net removed.
  32. Here are some highlight photos.
  33. At the tail end of leg 1, the ship pulled into port at Midway Atoll, which lies near the end of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands chain. On October 5, 14 diver and coxswains and 1 UAS pilot got off the ship to continue Leg 2 of the field mission. The NOAA ship began its transit back to Honolulu to offload the debris. The staff of 15 at Midway Atoll executed in-water and shoreline removal operations for one week. On October 12, 10 staff got onto a new ship, the merchant vessel Imua, to continue leg 3 of the field mission. Leg 2 continued with 5 field staff members before flying home on October 25. Leg 2 of the mission resulted in 1.35 square km of reef area surveyed and cleaned, and 0.41 square km of shoreline surveyed and cleaned, yielding over 63,000 lbs of debris removed.
  34. Here is a spatial map of the tow and swim survey areas, and the land debris shoreline survey areas.
  35. Here are a few highlight photos from Leg 2.
  36. Leg 3 of the mission started on October 13 with 10 staff aboard the chartered vessel Imua. It focused exclusively on shoreline removal operations at Kure Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island, and French Frigate Shoals. 0.18 square km of shoreline were surveyed and cleaned, resulting in over 49,000 lbs of debris removed.
  37. Here a few highlight photos from Leg 3. As you can see many of these beaches are littered with derelict fishing gear and other marine debris. In the top right of your screen, you see 3 marine debris team members carrying loads of debris miles across sandy beaches to the nearest boat access point.
  38. On October 30, the field mission came to an end. The debris was offloaded from the two ships, and sorted and organized for outreach and education, and a media day event. Leading up to, and following the field mission, 906 people were directly reached through outreach and education. We spoke at 10 elementary or intermediate schools before the mission, and 3 high schools attended outreach events following the mission to help sort and tally the marine debris brought back to Honolulu. Information about the project was also shared on blogs, local television networks, magazine articles, and even CBS’s 60 Minutes.
  39. Following the field mission, we worked to properly recycle and dispose the debris. Our partners at the Nets-to-Energy Program at Schnitzer Steel and Covanta helped down-cycle all of our nets by incinerating them to create electricity for homes on Oahu. The clean, usable plastic was provided to artists for artwork, and to non-profit organizations for outreach. A portion of the plastics was donated to a non-profit to recycle and create new products such as soap dispensers, skateboards, and sunglasses. The remainder was sent to the Waste-to-Energy program to create electricity here on Oahu.
  40. For this year’s field mission, not only did we remove 74 metric tons of debris, which roughly translates to the weight of 45 mid-size cars… but we got to continue and pilot some awesome research. We continued our shoreline accumulation study at Midway Atoll, and gathered shoreline accumulation data from 5 new islands and atolls this year. We also started a Structure-from-Motion pilot study to measure the negative impacts of nets on coral reefs. We paired that with a satellite buoy pilot study. Lastly, we got to use UAS’s or drones to try and determine if net detection from the air was feasible.
  41. The shoreline accumulation study has been going on since 2012, with our first data set collected in 2013. The Midway Atoll data set has a 5 year time series, and the data set at Kure Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island, and French Frigate Shoals is now at 1 year. With data over time and now over space, we hope to analyze and better understand shoreline accumulation rates, which are not accounted for in the 52 metric tons annually, across the NWHI.
  42. So our study site started in 2012. Due to ship delays, a team of divers were left on Midway Atoll for an extended period of time, allowing them to completely clean the entire atoll of all debris, including the backreef area and the shoreline area. This helped create a clean slate to start assessing for accumulation….(next slide)…The backreef area was stratified by direction into 5 classes, with 7 survey polygons each. The shoreline was divided into 300m survey segments….(next slide)… our shoreline accumulation rate data focused on Sand Island, Eastern Island, and Spit Island.
  43. Each shoreline was divided into 300 meter linear segments, measured along the vegetation line. These islands and sandy shorelines often shift in shape and size from weather, but the vegetation line remains fairly consistent. ..(next slide)….The boats access the shoreline and deploys the field team. ..(next slide)….Using their handheld GPS, the team makes their way down the beach, staying within the water line and vegetation line, collecting all marine debris 10cm or larger, which is about the size of your palm. Smaller debris that is easily identifiable, such as bottle caps and lighters are collected. Hazardous debris such as metal, glass, and lumber, are not surveyed for or collected. . ..(next slide)….Debris is then piled up and staged in several locations along the shore. . ..(next slide)….The team carries on until the survey is complete. ..(next slide)….Once the survey is complete, a team member walks back and tracks the survey area. They use information from their GPS and visually assess where they surveyed and cleaned. . ..(next slide)….Once that is complete, the survey area can be calculated. ..(next slide)….The debris is then loaded into the small boats and transported back to the ship, or in Midway’s case, back to Sand Island, where it is weighed and each debris item is tallied.
  44. Here are some examples of the spatial data from the shoreline surveys at Midway Atoll.
  45. For each 300m shoreline segment surveyed, we have pertinent information that will help us assess accumulation rates. We have the date of last survey, to easily calculate how many days the debris has been accumulating, accurate shoreline survey area, the weight of the debris removed from that survey area, and the tally of each debris item. Therefore, over time, we can measure the rate of change in accumulation, and the change in debris items or debris composition.
  46. Here are some photos of the debris we find. It’s predominantly derelict fishing gear, such as your hard plastic floats, foam floats, eel cone bait traps, and oyster spacer tubes which are used for aqua-culturing. However, we do find a lot of plastic you may use in your everyday life, such as tooth brushes, umbrellas, cigarette lighters, shoes and slippers, and of course, the plastic single-use beverage bottle.
  47. We were able to carry this study forth to 5 new islands and atolls. Here is some spatial data from Green Island on Kure Atoll, Laysan Island, and Lisianski Island.
  48. A real interesting project we were able to pilot this year was the Structure-from-motion study to quantitatively measure the impact of nets on reefs. Structure-from-Motion uses thousands of overlapping still 2-D images to stitch together a 3-D mosaic. Mosaics of the reef were created at impact sites, before the net was removed from the reef, and after the net was removed from the reef, to compare net size to scar size. The impact sites were paired with nearby control sites. Analysis and results are still pending.
  49. Here is a screenshot of what a 3-D mosaic looks like in space. It creates an accurate depiction of the reef by taking each point from each picture and projecting it in a 3 dimensional space. It’s as if you threw sand over an invisible reef. . ..(next slide)…. Here is a mosaic of an impacted site… (next slide)… I will be sharing with you some short videos of the impact sites with the net in place, and after the net was removed. …….. You can clearly see the scar site where the net used to be. . ..(next slide)…. This technology can be used to measure damage caused by the net on the reef.
  50. The net locations were randomly selected by surveying stratified sites based on likelihood or probability that a net would be caught on the reef, using historical survey data. ..(next slide)…. This is a spatial map of the impact sites and control sites at Pearl and Hermes Atoll
  51. The Structure from Motion study is a great opportunity for us to learn how much direct impact a single net has on a single reef. To better understand the total impact of a net on reef ecosystems, we paired the Structure-from-Motion study with a satellite buoy pilot study. The goal of the satellite buoy study is to better understand how many reefs a single net impacts or comes in contact with, before settling. Therefore, we tagged 6 nets that fit our criteria, which meant the nets had to be over 75% buoyant, level 1 bio-fouling, meaning they were fairly clean, and a minimum of 0.5 m3. We will be monitoring them for the duration of this year. Preliminary data has shown that some nets have began to move from reef to reef within the atoll.
  52. Lastly, we used UAS, or drones, to try and detect nets from the air. We used a fixed wing, vertical take-off and landing UAS, deployed and recovered from the small boat. The UAS was flown at 60m altitude, which was determined the optimal altitude for getting good area coverage without compromising image quality. We used RGB or Red-green-blue and IR or Infrared sensors. We were able to map 3.39 square kilometers of reef area in less than 10cm resolution. The area mapped using the UAS were then ground truth after, using swim survey methods to identify all net location points. Although analysis is still pending, the preliminary results using the IR spectrum seems promising.
  53. Here is a photo of a net on the reef using the IR sensor. ..(next slide)….You can see it circled here in red. ..(next slide)….Here is a map of the flight areas in orange, with the swim survey area and net locations identified via in-water surveying overlaid. We hope that UAS can be a tool used in the future to identify large nets or high density accumulation zones to reduce in-water survey time.
  54. So what’s in store for us in the future? 2020 is a data analysis year. We hope to analyze the shoreline accumulation data, the Structure-from-motion data, and UAS net detection data. We hope to achieve results that will correlate net size and weight with the damage caused to coral reefs. 2021 is our next projected field mission. This will be a large-scale, 30 to 60 day field mission, to remove as much debris from these sensitive habitats as possible. We will go and resurvey the impact and control sites using Structure-from-Motion, to measure successional change in benthic habitat composition, and measure the rate of coral growth. Hopefully we can present quantitative data that shows the positive impact that net or marine debris removals have on coral reef ecosystems.
  55. That’s all I have for today, but if you want to learn more about the project or about the NOAA Marine Debris Program, please visit, or If there is time at the end following the questions session, I’d like to show a 6 minute video highlighting the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and this project. My information is listed there on this slide, please feel free to reach out to me at any time. Thank you.


(Kalani Quiocho speaks on the video) – There is an olelo no’eau a Hawaiian proverb and it goes ku’i ka’lei mokua Kanaloa, and what that means simply in English is that the islands are strung together like a lei by the ocean. And even deeper than that, in a Hawaiian context, it means the islands are strung together by Kanaloa, or the Ocean Deity, a Hawaiian God. But if you look further into the meaning, the kauna, that deeper meaning, it means that humanity is united by the ocean. Humanity is united by the ocean.

(Kevin O’Brien speaks on video) In the North Pacific there is a system of ocean currents and oceanographic factors that are in play and are a big part of the reason why the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have such a big problem with marine debris. Anything that is dropped into the ocean around the Pacific Rim ends up getting swirled around by this North Pacific Gyre. And the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands lie in the very center of this North Pacific Gyre.  The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands act then as a big comb and filter out all that floating marine debris.

(James Morioka speaks on the video) There’s about 1,400 Hawaiian Monk Seals left in the world, 1,100 of which live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Our job is to ensure that these animals have a chance at success. So, cleaning up their habitat and cleaning up where they live is our number one priority.

(Kevin O’Brien speaks on video) Every year, 52 metrics tons of derelict fishing gear accumulates in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and that doesn’t even include any of the ocean plastics that end up washing up on the shorelines of these islands and atolls.

(Kalani Quiocho speaks on the video) When I see the images of the ingested plastic in seabirds, when I see the entanglements of marine wildlife… I didn’t necessarily put those things in the water but I am part of this system that sourced those things. So, trying to figure out what in my reach, what in my immediate reach can do? That’s what I have control over.

(James Morioka speaks on video) Whether you live by the shorelines or you live up in the hills or you live up in the mountains, our debris is making its way into the oceans. Whether that’s changing your lifestyle at home, reducing the amount of single-use plastics you utilize, or reusing some of the plastics you’ve already purchased or already have at home. I think everybody can make a difference by making a small change. Now get to work!

(Kalani Quiocho speaks on the video) The work being doing in Papahānaumokuākea is really really important andI’m very proud of our marine debris team. The work that they do is an extension of the work that were are trying to achieve as well within the Monument.

(James Morioka speaks on video)  I think there is a lot of hope for this project because people do care about the environment and people do care about how we can make a change. If you love something, it’s really to want to protect it.

James- Awesome, well thank you guys very very much. I see Sarah’s comment down there and I will be sharing this video with all of you. Thank you for having me, this has been a real pleasure.

Tracy and MaryLee – Bye everybody, thanks for coming!

Chat from 7/24/19 NOAA/National Ocean Service webinar by James Morioka

Tracy Gill/Marylee Haughwout:

The seminar starts at 3pm EDT. The audio is over the computer (or voice over IP). If you cannot hear anything, turn up the volume on your computer speaker or headset. If you still cannot hear, log off and back on; sometimes that works. If you want to expand the presentation window, there is a small button with arrows to the upper right of the presentation; this will toggle the presentation size larger or smaller; you will lose the chat and captioning boxes if you toggle to the larger view, but you can always can always toggle back to smaller. If you are interested in viewing the video or obtaining a PDF of this presentation, please contact or

General chat comments posted inside Adobe Connect during the presentation:

Tracy Gill: Great video!

Sara Roberts: I'd love to get the recording of this webinar when we're finished if possible!

Tracy Gill: Hi Sara, Email me and I will send you a recording.

Annette DesRochers: will the presentation be available online?

Tracy Gill: Yes, the plan is to have the presentation and webinar on the website but you can also email me if you want a copy directly.

Michael Le: Hi Tracy, I would like a copy.  Thanks.

Tracy Gill: Hi Michael, It is easiest if you email me directly with your request.

Tracy Gill: If folks have any questions please feel free to type them in the chat box and we will get to them at the end.

Ya'el Seid-Green: Question for the end: 1) How long does it generally take to cover a .25 km survey square? 2) Is the marine debris distributed heterogeneously or relatively homogenously? -  would the amount of debris on un-surveyed areas be about the same as those surveyed?

Sherry Lippiatt: Thanks for a great presentation! It sounds like you are planning to analyze the shoreline data next year, but have you seen any preliminary trends in the amount or composition of debris?

Michael Le: Does the survey include microplastic onshore deposition and in the water column?

Ya'el Seid-Green: Thanks so much!

Brittney Wong: What do you think is the best way to prevent future/increase derelict fishing gear?

Laura Ingulsrud: Do you have data on the types of fishing gear you find? (e.g., crab/lobster traps, larger nets, fishing line)

Sara Roberts: we've all seen pictures of albatrosses eating and being affected by plastics on land - have you seen albatrosses harmed by entanglement offshore?

Matthew Clark: Is shore-based debris mainly based on what is clearly visible at the surface, or do you also account for possibly buried debris that may become exposed over time?

Marina Psaros: 70% of the nets you find are from trawl...did you say that's mostly trawl gear that originates in Hawaii?

Raquel Aki 2: Excellent presentation! Papahānaumokuākea is culturally significant to the native Hawaiian people and we mahalo you and your team for your hard work

Mark Manuel: No trawl fishery in Hawaii

Marina Psaros: thought so, I think I heard James incorrectly.

Mark Manuel: Yeah, longline is the main commercial fishing fleet

Marina Psaros: ok, makes sense! :)

Marina Psaros: which fishery?

Marina Psaros: (which fishery is the gear associated with, I mean)

Laura Ingulsrud: Are you able to track the general area the fishing gear originates from?

Marina Psaros: Super interesting presentation. The tow boards look SOOO FUN!  :)

Mark Manuel: Difficult to identify specific fishery. Any fishery (both domestic and international) utilizing trawl or purse seine gear could be responsible.

Annette DesRochers: AWESOME presentation! Thank you for sharing

James Morioka:

Tracy Gill: If you are interested in the open Marine Debris Program grant opportunity you can visit The opportunity is open until September 4.

Tracy Gill: This is for removal. We will have another FFO for prevention announced in September.

Jennifer Samson: Great presentation and excellent work protecting such a special place.

Sara Roberts: Thank you so much for all the hard work you've done to clean up these incredible islands.

Sara Roberts: James - did you say that you could share these great videos with us?

Sara Roberts: thank you!

Elzbieta (Ela) Gajewska: Thank you

Trash Counts

If you wish to be part of the solution to marine debris and are ready to do more than talk trash, watch our new TRASH COUNTS video featuring a citizen science project that is making a difference, one data entry at a time.


Teacher: “Falcons” on three! One, two, three... Falcons! All right, let’s go!

These students from Scotts Valley High School near Santa Cruz California are fired up. Over the next few hours they will be scouring the beach, searching not for treasure, but for trash.

Student 1: We got a spoon!

Student 2: A cigarette butt.

Student 3: Oop… bottle cap.

They are painstakingly identifying each item and keeping count.

Their class will track trash over time. It's all part of a program that helps scientists drive new plans to reduce marine debris, through understanding what ocean trash ends up where.

Did you know that eight million metric tons of plastic ALONE enters our ocean every year? That’s equivalent to over 2.5 million elephants or more than 27,000 747 jets; and yes, you heard it right - that’s every year!

Marine debris, or trash in our ocean and Great Lakes, can cause a lot of problems for the health of animals and people.

Luckily, there are many people out there that are doing something about it. They’re spreading the word and cleaning up the trash,

BUT If we want to figure out the best way to solve this problem, we need to learn more about it. We can do that through monitoring.

Student 1: Is that larger than 2.5 centimeters?

Student 2: It is… not, so we do not have to categorize it. We just keep on walking. Ooh! Straw! Delicious.

Marine debris monitoring means that we’re keeping an eye on debris in a certain location and tracking changes over time.

Student 1: Um, we have found a lot of plastic fragments… a lot of food wrappers. Plastic bottles… just kind of food-related trash.

By recording the amount and types of marine debris, we can learn valuable information, like what kind of trash is the biggest problem, what locations have the most debris, and during what time of year more debris can be found.

People all over the country, and the world, are working together to monitor the marine debris they find on their shores.

Student 1: Obviously, this isn’t the only beach that has accumulated plastic, and by taking the census of all the trash around here, basically could give anyone even a rough estimate of how much there is on just any beach, in general.

This big picture can give us ideas for solutions and tell us if the prevention programs we already have are working.

Now, students like you can make a real difference using resources like the Marine Debris Tracker app or the Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators. With these powerful tools students can now collect local data, and share that information with their community and neighbors so they can come up with solutions to reduce trash on their shores.

OceansLIVE! Talking Trash: A Call to Action

Join Amy Uhrin, NOAA Marine Debris Program's Chief Scientist, as she talks about marine debris with Katie Register, Executive Director of Clean Virginia Waterways, during Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2016's OceansLIVE! segment put on by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. This segment, titled "Talking Trash: A Call to Action," was originally live-streamed and talks about marine debris and what you can do to help.

OceansLIVE! Talking Trash: A Call to Action transcript

0:50 welcome to day two of Capitol Hill ocean week 2016 here on oceans live
0:56 i'm your host Kate Thompson coming to you live from Capitol Hill ocean talk
1:00 don't forget to be part of our conversation by tweeting us questions
1:03 using hashtag child 2016 or chat us at oceans live . org this morning will be
1:09 turning to one of the biggest and most preventable problems facing the ocean
1:12 today
1:13 marine debris but before I introduce this morning's panelist i want to tell
1:17 you about the highlights from last night's ocean prom
1:20 the National Marine Sanctuary foundation hosted the 14th annual oceans awards
1:24 gala at the ronald reagan building an international trade center in washington
1:28 DC
1:29 many of the oceans most influential leaders such as the Lifetime Achievement
1:33 Award winner and I Noah Thompson came out to celebrate the importance of our
1:37 ocean
1:38 senator maria cantwell was honored with the leadership award and recognition for
1:42 her leadership in the fight for ocean conservation and for her advocacy for
1:46 sustainable fisheries expanding ocean acidification research and increased
1:50 ocean monitoring and science
1:52 the Foundation also honored volunteer of the year captain Scott hickman from the
1:57 flower garden banks national marine sanctuary
1:59 now back to today's panel on marine debris so what happens the litter on the
2:04 street or trash on the beach too often it ends up in the ocean which is filled
2:08 with items that don't belong there
2:10 huge amounts of consumer plastics metal rubber paper
2:14 textiles derelict fishing gear and other lost or discarded items enter the marine
2:18 environment every single day
2:20 joining us to talk today about that enormous and preventable problem is my
2:24 colleague from Noah
2:26 aimie Amy urine amy is the chief scientist for knows marine debris
2:30 program will talk with her about the sources and impacts of marine debris and
2:35 what knowing know is doing about it
2:37 we're also joined by Katie register the executive director of clean Virginia
2:41 waterways which works with long university to improve Virginia's rivers
2:46 and other water resources through citizens stewardship for more than 20
2:50 years now clean Virginia waterways has coordinated the International coastal
2:54 cleanup in Virginia
2:55 thanks ladies so much for joining me today in the studio
2:59 hey everybody here yeah i'm really excited to talk about this crazy problem
3:02 of marine debris
3:04 so I'm going to start us off with a quick question take a look at a picture
3:07 here
3:08 so what do you see and just give me one word of of what what that means to you
3:13 well i would say preventable and i have to say three words surprised but not
3:19 surprised
3:20 yeah right for words haha well you know what I'm just to me I look at that and I
3:28 go
3:29 that could be mine and I you know I'm gonna hold this up right here this right
3:35 here is a toothbrush that you know it's a transportable toothbrush that you
3:41 everybody sees when they go on vacation or a trip they they take this toothbrush
3:45 with them but it hits home because everybody uses a toothbrush every single
3:49 day
3:50 so how does that end up that was at the monument how does that toothbrush end up
3:54 the monument up in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands
3:57 I mean it's just it's crazy to think about that that that albatross right
4:00 there is looking at somebody's toothbrush from who knows where in this
4:04 world so I mean every day we use things such as cans or coffee cups or plastic
4:17 water bottles all of these things can become marine debris
4:23 so those are a few examples but Amy can you tell me a little bit about what
4:28 marine debris is and what and why it's such a big problem right so you kind of
4:32 hit on some of the high points
4:34 k and that is the definition of marine debris tells us that they are the solid
4:39 and persistent man made materials so their manufacturing process materials
4:44 that are intentionally or unintentionally directly or indirectly
4:48 abandoned or discarded into the Great Lakes and the marine environment and as
4:53 you indicated it's an everyday problem and it's a global problem
4:56 it's an everyday problem because as you said everybody across the globe uses
5:01 these products in their everyday life in some capacity right so it's an everyday
5:05 problem
5:06 it's a global problem because there are a lot of people in the world and people
5:09 across the planet are using these products everything
5:12 single day and if they are mismanaged if their waist is mismanaged if the
5:16 recycling is managed they can find their way into the environment into waterways
5:20 and eventually into the ocean
5:23 it's also a global problem in the sense that we are all connected by the ocean
5:27 right the continents are surrounded by water and so something that ends up in
5:31 on a beach end up in the water on a shoreline say in Florida you know could
5:38 find its way up the coast to Virginia could find its way into the Caribbean
5:42 things that wash into the ocean off the coast of Japan could find their way to
5:45 the west coast of the United States due to tides currents you know wind waves on
5:50 the surface and so debris
5:52 Marie connects us in that way it's not necessarily going to be a local problem
5:56 but your local problem we can extend beyond your immediate vicinity right I
6:01 read a book once it was called Moby duck and it-it-it talked about a container
6:06 ship the container was lost off the ship in the middle of the ocean and it was
6:10 carrying rubber duckies
6:12 so you know we all can relate to a rubber ducky and and being in the
6:15 bathtub with rubber ducky
6:17 but what was interesting about the book is it is we are completely
6:21 interconnected it is one ocean that these environmentalists and research
6:26 scientists were tracking these rubber duckies all over the world people were
6:30 finding them everywhere so it doesn't matter if the u.s. is completely clean
6:35 of marine debris and say you know Africa isn't and they have Tom marine debris
6:40 it doesn't matter it goes everywhere find its way it can find his way
6:43 everywhere so I mean at that
6:44 that was pretty impactful book for me to read just to understand how that all
6:48 works but you know speaking of that so where does it come from
6:52 I mean do what I do in my backyard can that go into the ocean oh absolutely i
6:57 mean as you point out trash travels
6:59 it travels from tiny streams two rivers to base to the ocean and most of the
7:05 trash has been documented it comes from inland even though it's called marine
7:10 debris most of it comes from inland
7:13 we're talking about a tennis ball that somebody loses we're talking about a
7:16 cigarette but that was tossed out of a car window
7:19 and in fact there's a group the ocean conservancy does the International
7:24 coastal cleanup were thousands of volunteers pick up debris items and they
7:28 record data and you're looking right now at the top 10 most frequently found
7:34 debris items
7:35 this was collected last year by nearly 800,000 volunteers worldwide notice
7:40 number one cigarette butts
7:42 almost everything on the list after cigarette butts have to do with what we
7:46 eat and what we drink
7:48 so a lot of that's coming from inland however about 20 or so percent comes
7:53 from the marine environment mostly we're talking about things that go fishing
7:58 that's crab pots lobster pots things that are designed to capture animals and
8:04 so when they become derelict or abandoned in the ocean in the coastal
8:09 environments they can be very very deadly to the animals and the wildlife
8:13 that live there
8:14 right right i think we were diving in the Florida Keys just the other day and
8:18 you know the the season for lobstering what had been over for two months and we
8:22 found one on the bottom that was still goes fishing and had like eight lobster
8:26 still in it so easy craving it's no longer attached to its float:right still
8:31 catching and killing animals and then the animal that it get in the trap
8:34 become bait for the next right animals come along right
8:38 so Amy I'm going to ask you a couple Tuffy's back
8:42 so where is all this stuff end up and basically how much I mean can you give
8:48 me a figure like poundage or weight of how much marine debris end up in the
8:52 ocean
8:52 deriving that kind of exact statistic is very difficult for a number of reasons
8:57 but perhaps the largest one is just the vastness of the ocean right it's a huge
9:02 water body and so if you want to try to derive some statistics about how much is
9:06 in the action you have to make sure that your sampling all the different oceanic
9:09 compartments and so when debris finds its way to the coast
9:13 it can become stranded on the shoreline so that's a compartment
9:17 it can find its way into the nearshore surface waters and eventually out to the
9:20 open ocean surface water so it can be on the surface it can possibly sink and
9:25 become vertically distributed in the the water column
9:29 it can completely think to the sea floor right and be laying on the bottom both
9:34 in nearshore environments and debris has been found on in deep submarine canyons
9:38 in the ocean
9:39 it can become buried when it's on the sea floor and also animals take up the
9:44 debris and so in order to try to figure out how much is out there you would have
9:49 to effectively and accurately sample all those different compartments which is a
9:52 very very difficult task
9:54 um what we do know though is study came out last year by researchers at the
9:58 University of Georgia
10:00 they looked at a hundred and ninety-two coastal countries across the globe and
10:04 looked at waste management practices and what they found was that about
10:09 on average eight million metric tons of mismanage plastic waste actually ends up
10:14 in the ocean and out of those a hundred and ninety two countries there were a
10:19 top 20 which contributed to eighty-three percent of that eight million metric
10:23 tons so we have numbers like that where we know how much is entering the ocean
10:27 but once it enters it becomes distributed right again I said the ocean
10:31 is vast and so we do know that there are areas where it tends to accumulate rack
10:36 line on beaches so where vegetation comes up and get stranded is kind of a
10:41 hot spot for marine debris if you will and then also in the open ocean areas
10:45 where currents converge on one another are natural areas of debris accumulation
10:49 and also everyone is probably heard of the North Pacific Garbage Patch well the
10:54 reason
10:55 that debris is accumulating there is because there's an oceanic gyre there
10:59 and what a gyre is a system of rotating currents so they can be clockwise or
11:04 counterclockwise depending on which hemisphere in but think of them as a
11:07 giant expansive slow-moving whirlpool if you will right so they're rotating like
11:12 this and what happens in a whirlpool things get drawn into the middle so they
11:16 tend to be areas of accumulation of debris on
11:19 but even though debris accumulates there you can't just go out and encounter
11:23 sample it or collect it because there tend to be very small particles in the
11:29 gyre so the larger plastic items can break down through UV radiation hitting
11:35 the particles some bacterial action and so a lot of the materials that are in
11:40 those generals are very tiny like this and it's difficult to sample this kind
11:44 of material when it's so small
11:46 the other problem is that the jurors move it so they're slowly rotating but
11:52 depending on wind patterns and the temperature of the water the gyres can
11:55 actually shift within a water body and they can shift as much as a thousand
11:59 miles north or south depending on conditions and so on
12:05 I think I made a good point to indicate that it's not having it you can just go
12:08 with a dip net and then quantify how much is out there
12:11 unfortunately yeah he's shaking your head fortunately
12:14 oh ok well Katie I mean what are the impacts mean all this stuff in the ocean
12:20 and the environment can't be good
12:22 so what are some of the impacts that that are found out there
12:25 the most famous impacts are those on wild animals
12:29 seabirds dolphins sea turtles even whales have been documented to eat
12:34 they ingest the plastic and trash mistaking it for food especially plastic
12:38 bags can look a great deal like a jellyfish and jellyfish are the favorite
12:42 food of many sea turtle species of so ingestion
12:46 but by wildlife is a big issue another big impact is entanglement animals that
12:51 become entangled in nets or fishing line or the ribbons on balloons are usually
12:57 plastic so in addition though to the impacts on wild animals we also impact
13:03 on habitat for example of a plastic bag or a piece of fabric even on a coral
13:08 reef can destroy and kill the living coral
13:12 there are also impacts on human safety and you don't want to be on a boat
13:16 get your prop caught up in a fishing net and burn out your engine so you've got
13:20 safety issues there right
13:23 there's also food chain issues right now there's a concern that some of the
13:27 animals that form the base of the food chain in the oceans like plankton so
13:32 plankton smaller juvenile fish when they ingest marine debris typically smaller
13:36 plastic particles like I indicated earlier larger fish eat the smaller fish
13:40 an even larger fish eat those fish so what we really don't have a good handle
13:44 on right now is how those effects translate up the food chain and then
13:48 eventually to us because there are some species or plastics have been documented
13:52 from their guts and then their species that we eat
13:55 the other concern is that there could be population-level effects for the species
14:00 that do in jest marine debris so not only does it impact individual organisms
14:05 in terms of their biology or their physiology but it can have impacts in
14:09 the next generation so a study came out earlier this year looking at oysters and
14:14 so they found that oysters didn't just tiny micro plastic particles microbeads
14:18 what they found was that it affected the aspects of the reproductive system of
14:23 those oysters so sperm or less motile eggs were smaller
14:28 there weren't as many eggs and also in the next generation of oysters those
14:32 oysters were smaller
14:33 so we're starting to get indication that yes there can be individual level
14:37 impacts but possibly we could be talking about impacts up the hierarchy at the
14:42 population level
14:43 so essentially we are ingesting the plastic that can kind of scary to think
14:48 sir
14:50 so you work for noah and obviously this is such a large problem that that no one
14:57 Congress that we need to create a program
15:00 so can you tell us a little bit about Noah's marine debris program for I do so
15:03 I love to
15:04 so the program is actually established through an act of congress the marine
15:08 debris act in 2006 so this year is our ten-year anniversary which is very
15:12 exciting and the act was real
15:14 rise in 2012 and so what the active is it instituted the program and provided a
15:19 number of mandates that we were to operate under or a number of activities
15:23 that we were supposed to coordinate and and and and handle and so from those
15:28 mandates our program actually developed five pillars coordination emergency
15:33 response prevention through education and outreach removal and research and so
15:39 coordination is a big one we have nine regional coordinators across the United
15:43 States alaska and hawaii and they serve as our eyes and ears on the ground for
15:48 the program because we're here in washington DC at headquarters
15:51 but they also serve as a focal point for folks in that region that are working on
15:55 marine debris issues so they know who they can contact if they have questions
15:58 and they can get people to network that are working on similar issues and things
16:02 of that nature for emergency response in the last 10 years we've actually help to
16:07 respond to four different events the american samoa tsunami the japanese
16:11 tsunami and then hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and so we assist states or
16:16 territories that are impacted by those events and trying to get a handle on
16:21 what washed up
16:23 how much of it where it came from and then prevention remove one research and
16:27 so each year we hold grant competitions for prevention and removal projects and
16:34 so removal projects might include these are larger ticket removal larger ticket
16:39 items so this might be a project where a community has a derelict vessel in there
16:43 harbor and they just been wanting to get rid of it they just haven't had the
16:46 means to do so and then the prevention grants seek to a fun project looking at
16:52 education and outreach so how can we teach folks about marine debris and how
16:56 it can be prevented and so this might be someone developing a curriculum for
17:00 school to teach students
17:02 it could be a community that wants to put up signage because their community
17:05 is on a water body and they want to make people aware of what marine debris is
17:09 and and how we can combat it
17:10 and then lastly research so withheld grant competitions for research in the
17:15 past we also fund research through other mechanisms but looking at several
17:18 different aspects of the marine debris issue source
17:21 how much how its distributed how it moves through the environment
17:25 and how it impacts animal this Katie was talking about
17:28 and so again our ten-year anniversary we're really excited about all our
17:31 accomplishments
17:33 you can check us out on marine debris . know . go to learn more
17:36 yeah well I know that sanctuaries has received quite a few of those amazing
17:40 grants to go out each year and bring up that either derelict fishing gear or
17:45 just pounds of trash and it
17:48 it really is amazing that the marine debris program does these grants because
17:52 it helps us to to clean up and make somewhat of an impact anyway so Katie
17:59 tell me a little bit more about the clean Virginia waterways program and
18:03 what you do all right well for 22 years clean Virginia waterways has led the
18:07 international coastal cleanup in the state of Virginia
18:10 we've our volunteers of removed more than 3 million pounds of trash from
18:15 Virginia streams rivers and beaches
18:17 they also collect data because it is part of the international coastal
18:21 cleanup we've also done some groundbreaking research our first big
18:25 research project was on cigarette butts which is the number one source of
18:29 plastic that people don't understand that those filters are made of cellulose
18:33 acetate
18:34 we've also recently been working on research about balloon releases balloons
18:39 are very unique source of marine debris
18:42 it's one of the few things that people purchase they go outside with the intent
18:46 of releasing it into the environment and i think most people have no idea or
18:52 don't think about how one hundred percent of those balloons will return to
18:56 Earth or the ocean and we find hundreds and hundreds on the ocean beaches of
19:01 Virginia
19:02 we also recently with our partners the Virginia coastal zone management program
19:07 and Noah wrote the Virginia marine debris reduction plants so Virginia is
19:13 one of the very few states in the United States that has a plan to deal with
19:18 marine debris and reduce it over the next 10
19:21 yours well we actually have a question from our live chat you can chat your
19:25 questions in and we will answer in your life which we're going to do right now
19:30 so our question is how can civilians get involved in the cleanup
19:33 oh boy getting involved and clean up there in first of all the International
19:37 coastal cleanup
19:38 you can learn about it through Ocean Conservancy and they will tell you where
19:42 in your state of who to contact
19:45 wherever you live not just in your state is international but people can also get
19:49 involved by prevention prevention is one of the biggest solutions to marine
19:53 debris cleanup SAR great data collection very important but prevention by the 3
19:59 r's reduce the amount of trash you're producing everyday SE nota straws reuse
20:06 things reusable shopping bags coffee mugs things like that
20:10 recycle of course whatever trash you do end up producing but yes it's very
20:16 preventable whether you're in fourth grade or you're a country i mean there's
20:20 so much we can do with education legislation and innovation and that you
20:26 just wanted to share one little thing when the Virginia Institute of Marine
20:30 Sciences worked on a panel to put on crab pots and this panel is made up of
20:37 readily biodegradable plastic so if a crab pot gets severed from its float and
20:42 it's down there in the Chesapeake Bay or coastal waters after a while this panel
20:47 will biodegrade in any animal that's captured can come out
20:50 well the scientist who created this said well let's do that with shotgun wads
20:54 shotgun
20:55 if you're a hunter and you're off shooting there's a piece of plastic that
20:59 separates the powder from the shot made out of plastic
21:03 unruh treatable once the shotguns been shot
21:06 so they are gearing up to make available commercially these biodegradable odds
21:12 for shock and so it's just a sample of innovation right to solve the problem
21:18 can I see on facebook or something the other day there is that a beer company
21:21 because because that's always the this six-pack rain and that's what you always
21:26 see like around turtles or whatever but there's actually a beer company that now
21:30 they're making edible rings like it
21:32 turtles can actually eat the ether rate I think it's genius like we all need to
21:37 move forward and come up with these innovative ideas to prevent this from
21:41 happening
21:42 so what are some of the solutions that your organizations are working on to
21:48 combat marine debris
21:50 I think Katie touched on several of those but I didn't want to make kind of
21:53 a plug for her
21:55 our marine debris monitoring and assessment project so again if you go to
21:58 our website it's under the research header and so this was a project that
22:02 was initiated as a result of the japan Tsunami and 2011 that i mentioned before
22:06 and our partners were really interested our partners on the west coast were
22:10 interested in determining what kind of debris was on the shorelines all ready
22:13 to serve as a baseline before the potential influx of debris from the
22:18 japan Tsunami and so our staff developed some rapid assessment protocols so folks
22:23 would go out on their shorelines on the west coast of the US and do some random
22:27 recounts and get a handle on you know what was out there and so that project
22:31 has been around for for a while now and just at the beginning this month we
22:35 launched an online tool box for that project that's called to get started
22:39 toolbox and so it's kind of a one-stop shop online for folks who participate in
22:44 the monitoring project as Katie group does where they can find all the tools
22:49 that they need to get started if they're not yet a partner or to continue being a
22:52 partner things like all the data sheets can be found there in the field manual
22:57 and a photo field guide folks sometimes are not sure what to call a piece of
23:01 debris when they find it so there's a nice handy field guide they can look at
23:04 there's a video tutorial for folks who are interested in getting involved in
23:07 the project so they can watch the tutorial and figure out what exactly is
23:11 involved how do we actually monitor on the beach on
23:14 yeah so I would encourage folks to get involved if you want
23:17 don't want to take on something as large as being an official part of the
23:20 monitoring project just participating in in beach cleanups in your area or even
23:25 if you don't live on the coast line participating in a clean up wherever you
23:28 live because as we've you know it's been a theme in this discussion it can end up
23:32 in the ocean and often times it does right and just looking back at that top
23:36 10 list that collected by the International coastal cleanup volunteers
23:40 tells you a lot of what we could do we can say no two straws for example you
23:45 know most people really don't absolutely need a straw smokers can use pocket
23:50 ashtrays or they're also a strange that you can buy for your car since i don't
23:55 have ashtrays built into them anymore
23:57 i mean if if smokers stop littering if people who eat and drink
24:01 stop littering or if they go to reusable water bottles and reusable shopping bags
24:07 so this top 10 list gives us a lot of answer right right so again let's show
24:12 that that reusable water bottle
24:15 this one we can go here first over this
24:18 this verse this there we go if your reusable the plastic use reusable and if
24:26 you have to use single-use disposable make sure you get it recycled right
24:30 right
24:31 recycle recycle recycle I think it's important we talk about recycling to to
24:35 make sure you understand the recycling policies in your area because they vary
24:39 they vary across stage at a very across communities within States so really find
24:44 out what is and is not recyclable in in your community and so that you know
24:47 because it can be a problem for the recycling industry when things are mixed
24:51 commingled the Sun can be recycling some can so it does create problems for that
24:56 industry so so knowing knowing the rules and regulations in your area is really
25:01 important for example important you know such a large problem but so completely
25:05 preventable
25:06 absolutely so completely confident we can solve it right reduce reuse recycle
25:10 thanks ladies your money for joining me they and discussing this incredibly
25:14 important topic
25:15 you can learn more about knows marine debris program at marine debris . Noah .
25:19 gov and about the clean Virginia waterways program at longwood dot edu /
25:24 clean VA at 11:15 a.m. child will continue discussing this issue with a
25:30 panel on turning trash into cash
25:32 innovation and industry leadership will be back with Capitol Hill ocean talk at
25:36 twelve-fifteen with a panel on ocean acidification
25:40 but before we go I want to extend a special thank you to our presenting
25:43 sponsors the national oceanic and atmospheric administration the US
25:46 Department of the Interior and the walton family foundation the co-host of
25:50 chow
25:51 the Campbell foundation
25:52 the Gordon Betty Moore Foundation and all the sponsors
25:55 because without their support the success and accessibility of child would
25:59 not be possible
26:00 thanks so much for watching and I'll see you right back here at 12:15

First Place Winner: 2019 Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the second place winner for the 2019 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.  

Video Transcript

Lake Erie is the eleventh largest lake in the whole world and we are lucky to be able to call it our home. Lake Erie is beautiful and provides us with many things to do. Our islands are full of life, and on any given day in the summer, hundreds of people will be out enjoying the lake and its beaches. But what seems like just having some fun, can actually badly harm our environment. When people do not properly dispose of their trash or just leave it behind, it leads to the pollution of our waterways. And as a result of debris in our lake, marine life is endangered, animals can get entangled within nets, swallow cigarette butts and plastics, and be poisoned by chemicals in the water. But we can prevent this from happening by properly disposing of trash, recycling when possible, participating in local cleanups, and using reusable items instead of single-use items.

Second Place Winner: 2019 Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the second place winner for the 2019 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

Imagine coming to Sandusky, Ohio and wanting to go fishing, swimming, and to do many other water activities but the water is covered in plastic and trash. There are more than 100 million pieces of plastic in Lake Erie alone. Plastic is getting into our waters by wind, garbage trucks, and ourselves, whether we know it or not. Plastic is not only ruining our waters but it is also killing marine life. Marine debris, also known as marine litter, injures and kills marine life, interferes with navigation safety, and poses a threat to human health. Our oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams are being polluted with a wide variety of marine debris ranging from soda cans and plastic bags to run down fishing gear. Reducing, reusing, and recycling is a great way to keepplastic out of our waters. By refusing the straws, the bags, the bottles, we can be the change we wish to see in the world.

First Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the first place winner for the 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

[Clips of recreational activities on Lake Erie]
Lake Erie is home to many beautiful things. The lake and islands are full of activities and adventures. We know it as a place we can relax with friends and enjoy our time.

[Clips of specific debris types]
But there is a bigger issue, items are being disposed into the Great Lakes. It can range from litter to abandoned vessels.

[Clips of large amounts of marine debris]
This marine debris is hurting our environment, economy, and health. Marine debris can kill and injure marine wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, endanger human health, and hurt businesses and tourism by polluting our beaches and coastline.

[Prevention clips]
Reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep debris out of the ocean in the first place. You can bring your own shopping bag, drink out of a reusable bottle, and participate in things like a shoreline cleanup to help stop marine debris.

Second Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the second place winner for the 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

Ohio is home to one of the most signifiant bodies of water in the world - Lake Erie. The great lakes combined are the largest surface freshwater system on Earth.
In addition with Lake Erie, Ohio is home to the Ohio River, along with 3,300 named rivers, as well as 60,000 lakes and ponds.
Lake Erie and the Ohio River have been engrained with North American physical and cultural heritage for decades. The question is, are humans doing their part to keep these special bodies of water clean?
As a resident of Ohio, or better yet, as a resident of Earth, we all have a responsibility to keep our waterways clean and clear.
Every year, over a million lives are lost due to marine pollution.
No, not human lives, but animals.
Nearly 1 million birds and 100,000 marine animals die as a result of marine litter.
This is unacceptable.
We not only have the possibility, but the responsibility to make a difference. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Third Place Winner: 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the third place winner for the 2018 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

A dream in paradise is a day at the beach... but is this what you imagine paradise to be?
Marine debris has been a growing global problem.
It is man made, including everything we produce, consume, and throw away, which then gets thrown, drifted, and carried into our lakes, rivers, oceans, and all this garbage is consumer by marine animals, killing and harming them, entangling them and destroying their habitats and families.
All it takes is one piece of garbage to harm or potentially kill an animal.
One person at a time, we are reducing trash in our water systems, reducing the world's largest patch of trash at 7 million square miles in the North Pacific Ocean. Within one square mile, scientists recovered 1.9 million pieces of marine debris.
We are working every day, one day at a time, in saving animals and keeping our seas free of debris!

NOAA Divers Free Green Sea Turtle from Net in Hawaii

In October 2014, a team of 17 NOAA divers sailing aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette returned from a mission to remove marine debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. Divers encountered and rescued three sea turtles tangled in different nets.

Video Transcript

In October 2014, a team of 17 NOAA divers removed 57 tons of derelict fishing nets and plastic litter from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii.
They also rescued this protected green sea turtle entangled in derelict fishing gear at Pearl and Hermes Atoll.
Three green sea turtles were freed during this mission.

Permit PMNM-2013-001
Co-Trustee Conservation and Management activities in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

NOAA Marine Debris Program Removal Webinar, April 2017

On April 27, 2017, the NOAA Marine Debris Program highlighted three Community-Based Marine Debris Removal Grant projects focused on crab pots around the United States in a "removal webinar." This webinar provided an opportunity for NOAA’s existing partners to learn and exchange information pertaining to crab pot removals from different regions. The presentations covered project overviews, key measures of success, lessons learned, and general project highlights from the following removal projects:

  • Fisherman-led Dungeness crab gear recovery in Northern and Central California, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
    Presenter: Kirsten Gilardi
  • Creating a self-sustaining strategy to remove derelict fishing gear in North Carolina, North Carolina Coastal Federation
    Presenter: Ladd Bayliss
  • Derelict crab trap removal and prevention in shallow coastal bays: transferring a sustainable marine debris program, Stockton University
    Presenters: Mark Sullivan and Steve Evert


Jenna Malek: Good afternoon everybody, thank you so much for joining us for the Marine Debris Program communications webinar series. Just a quick introduction for those of you that might not be super familiar with the NOAA Marine Debris Program. We are in NOAA”s Office of Response and Restoration and our mission is to investigate and prevent the diverse effect so of marine debris. To fulfill this mission, we have 5 pillars which include: regional coordination, emergency response, research, prevention, and removal which we are going to be focusing on today. In future webinars, we will be focusing on other things such as prevention. One of the big things that our program does is that we give out grants to different partners in order to do things such as removal and prevention, and since 2006 when the program started, with our partners, we have removed over 5500 tons of debris from the coastlines of the United States and the Great Lakes. Today we’re going to focus on a few of the current removal grants that we have, and these are all really interesting because they revolve around the removal of derelict crab pots, but they take place in different parts of the country. A really cool characteristic that these projects have is that they are all working with local fishing communities. So we are really excited for you to join us today and to hear about these projects. We will start first with Dr. Kirsten Gilardi at the University of California Davis in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Kirsten take it away!
Kirsten: Thanks! Happy to be here with all of you spread out all over the country and maybe even in other parts of the world. Thanks for organizing. My name is Kirsten Gilardi, I am the co-director of the Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Medicine in CA and am presenting today on behalf of my staff person Jennifer Renzullo as well. So we’re going to talk about this project for which we currently have NOAA MDP funding for implementation.
(next slide)
That’s a photo of Jen Ren, my colleague. We launched the California lost fishing gear recovery gear recovery project well over 10 years ago, July 2005, with some initial funding form the California Ocean Protection Council. We modeled our program very closely on the derelict fishing gear recovery programs that were underway at the time in Washington state and Hawaii and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. To date, overall, our project have recovered more than 120 tons of fishing gear and debris and that has been comprised of many hundreds of nets and traps and pots, as well as millions of feet of monofilament fishing line. As we’ve gone through this project, as I’m sure we’ll hear from the other projects, we’ve documented many entanglements, well over 1000 entanglements and entrapments including marine mammals and sea birds, sharks, fish, live and dead, and of course a lot of lobsters, Dungeness crabs, other crab species, other invertebrates.
(next slide)
Our first several years, we did most of our work in the Southern California Bight. Our grants were fairly geographically specific. We worked very closely with urchin harvesters as our contractors and they essentially did search and collection underwater for derelict fishing gear, both for nets and also lobster gear.
(next slide)
That was keeping us plenty busy for quite a while and then we started receiving calls as our project became well known in the state, we were receiving calls from fishermen on the north coast of California just talking about what they perceived to be a really growing problem with derelict Dungeness crab gear. This is a photo just to show you how big and harsh the ocean can get. Those aren’t crab pots, those are boats. But basically, ocean conditions on the north coast are pretty severe, there is a lot of boat traffic, kelp and the combination of those factors means that everybody in the fleet loses gear and there was too much of that accumulating as far as the fishermen and other ocean users were concerned.
(next slide)
We first received funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through their fishing for energy program in the summer and fall of 2015 and launched this program in partnership with the Humboldt Fisherman’s Marketing Association (HFMA). The HFMA themselves selected 3 boats to serve as the primary crews in the field recovering gear and the HFMA members themselves agreed that those fisherman would be paid $50/trap that they pulled and $75 per pumped trap. They would also have their fuel costs reimbursed and then HFMA, the gear that they bought from the fishermen, the derelict gear, would then be sold back to original owners, for the same price.
(next slide)
So the result of that pilot effort was that the three different fisherman spent 20 days on the water and ended up recovering 666 lost and abandoned Dungeness crab traps, as well as a lot of buoys and line. And that gear represented by gear lost by 65 different boats.
(next slide)
And if you look at what I call the fiscal snapshot, out grant from NFWF was $109K and we sub awarded the HFMW $50K to cover gear retrieval costs and boats and fuel, etc. HFMA, of that $50K sub award, spent about $45K to pay fishermen for retrieval and to cover some of the reimbursable costs and when the HFMA turned around and sold the retrieved traps back to the original owners, they earned $25,805 which they put into an Escrow account to support future gear recovery efforts.
(next slide)
So this program was successful enough that we started to field inquiries from other parts of the coast. There was an interest in continuing the work in the North coast, but there were parts further down the coast also interested in getting involved. So we applied for funding from the Marine Debris Program and continued our partnerships with the HMFA but then also expanded and partnered with the Commercial Fishing Association of Bodega Bay (CFABB) and this time around, having gone through the pilot effort and having had success with that, we tried some new strategies. We set just one price per trap whether pulled or pumped. We decided not to continue fuel reimbursement to the retrievers. For those retrievers who had already been working on the projects, we did not place project staff on the boat as an observer. And then the fisherman themselves handled all of the gear sales back to original owners.
(next slide)
This is kind of a dense slide, I apologize for that, but it does kind of itemize or describe the result of this NOAA funded effort. On the North coast, again partnered with HMFA in fall 2015 and 2106. We worked with a couple different crab fishermen who retrieved 326 traps in 10 days of effort. Those traps represented gear lost by 28 different permit holders and of those 326 traps, 243 were returned to owners. Only 16 were purchased and 83 traps were recycled. In the San Francisco Bay area, with HMFA brokering this effort in fall 2015, we worked with 3 new fishermen who recovered 200 traps in 6 days, this is in fall 2015. Of those 215 traps belonging to 54 different permit holders and 128 of those traps were returned to the owners, with most of those being purchased back by the original owners and 72 traps were recycled. And then this last fall, again in the San Francisco Bay area, we had our agreement set up with CFABB, working with a couple of their members, they spent just 3 days in the water and retrieved 33 traps, 4 of which were returned to owners but not purchased, and 29 were recycled. You all asked us to list or think about what were our particular successes or challenges. So just listing here, the quantity of gear retrieved, the number of crabs that were released back to the ocean, an estimation of the sea floor that was cleaned up, the numbers of fisherman involved, and this is all right here. But I wanted to focus on the challenge, the fact that our fisherman’s association partners really did not earn funds in selling gear back to original owners as had gone so well in our pilot project. And this was in part because first of all, word kind of got with the fishing community that is wasn’t requirement to pay for the gear, as well there was one effort on the north coast where a huge number of traps were retrieved for a particular fisherman who had unfortunately undergone a family tragedy and had not been able to go out and get his own pots. So this was done by one of our fishermen and the association itself decided not to charge him.
(next slide)
This was kind of how things were going when as you all know, I don’t need to tell you, there was a big up-kick in the last couple of years in the entanglements of large whales in commercial fishing gear off the U.S. West coast. These are figures pulled from NMFS report 2016 West Coast Entanglement Summary. There were 71 whales in 2016 and of those, 33 of 47 where they could identify the gear, the gear was Dungeness crab gear.
(next slide)
So this prompted the Dungeness Crab Task Force to advocate for and work with the state senator to draft Senate Bill 1287, the Whale Protection in Crab Gear Retrieval Act, which was signed by the governor last fall and basically allows the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CA DFW) to permit gear retrieval and also allows them to require that a fee be charged to permit holders for derelict traps that are recovered. They are in the process of figuring to how to set that fee at a level that allows for being able to cover the cost of the regulatory program and compensate fishermen who recover lost traps. We are currently in the process of helping the CA DFW develop a plan for implementation and the Dungeness Crab Task Force continues to coordinate Dungeness crab working group.
(next slide)
That’s it in a nutshell and I think I hit my 10 minute mark and wanted to leave time for questions, I’m very happy to field those.
Jenna: Thank you so much Kirsten, that was really interesting, really great numbers, good to see. We would like to open it up to anybody on the line ask questions.
Q: Was it determined that most of the entanglements were in derelict gear?
A: Are you talking about the large whale?
Q: Yeah.
A: No. I was just at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission workshop on the particular topic last month. The point we all discussed is that it’s really impossible to know whether the gear the whales are getting entangled in was legally deployed in season and they got tangled in it, and of course the minute it’s on a whale, its derelict, it’s not fishing anymore. It has been difficult to tell that.
Q: But the incentive for the legislation was to allow for permitted recovery, was this prompted by the number of entanglements?
A: I can’t speak for the fishermen, but I do know that first of all, they knew it was the right thing to do because there shouldn’t be a large amount of gear being left in the water by their fishery and I think that there was concern that if they weren’t being proactive about it as a problem, that there was going to be an even higher level of scrutiny on the fishery and so first and foremost, the impetus was to do the right thing. But I think on the background being that there was also a higher level of attention now being paid to fishing gear in the ocean and how it’s impacting marine mammals. I hope that answered the question.
Q: Yeah, I just didn’t know what it was a direct correlation between…
A: It was really more the fact that with the pilot effort that proved to be effective and have so much buy-in from the fleet, that there was an opportunity to do something bigger, more permanent and sustainable.
Q: It looked the removal numbers were decreasing year on year. Is that a function of there being fewer traps on the bottom?
A: Yeah, the trouble with the state over is of course we had the domoic acid closures and significant delay in the opening of the fishery, so there was just not nearly as much gear in the water during the season as in normal years. That’s what we ascribe it to. I think there is also stepped up effort on the part of DFW, their enforcement division, so DFW was also recovering gear which was great. There is a group of fishermen down working out of Half Moon Bay that were also engaged in derelict pot recovery work and so there was some areas that we had worked in the previous year that they had also worked on. But I think that the real issue is that there was not nearly as much gear in the water during the 2015-2016 season.
Q: Thank you and I guess one follow-up, for the gear that you’re pulling up, is there any sense of how long it’s been sitting on the bottom?
A: No, we don’t. Sort of subjectively, we have a sense of whether is was gear from the previous seasons or been out there much longer, depending on how much growth there is on the buoy and the line.
Q: Is there not a year tag on each crab pot?
A: There is, but we don’t record that in our log. So, it would be good bit of information to be collecting going forward for sure.
Great, thank you.
Q: This is Jenna, real quick question. For the whale entanglements, you said you identified 31 out of 47 as Dungeness crab gear…
A: We didn’t, NOAA did, I was just taking the data from their report.
Q: I was just curious what other fisheries you have out there that might be an entanglement issue? I’m not very familiar with the California coast.
A: Well, of course these whales are showing up on our coasts, but they’re not necessarily getting entangled off the California coast. Of course we have big purse-seine fisheries and other trap fisheries, like lobster trap fisheries down in southern California. I can go to my copy of that report and see what they were saying, again, this was West Coast wide. Fishery type: Dungeness crab, gillnets, spot prawns, sable fish, Dungeness crab recreational, spiny lobster fishery were the fishery types they could identify. But by far the most were the Dungeness crab commercial fishery.
Ok, thank you.
Any other questions?
Q: I have another question if there is some blank time to fill here.
A: Yes, we have another minute before we switch over so go ahead.
Q: Thank you. One of my challenges with the project we have is the perception of there being a bounty on these traps and the proprietary nature of the fishery. I wondered if you had encountered any of that with the crab fishery – whether they don’t try to lose the gear, but then have to pay to recover it. Just curious if there has been any challenge there. Is it seen as bounty hunt, or begrudging having to pay for their own property.
A: I have heard through the grapevine that there is a certain portion of the fleet is very concerned about us Bill 1287, because they’re concerned about being required to pay for any of their traps that are retrieved, so yes, there is a certain amount of concern and I think that is what the DFW is grappling with as they figure out how they’re going to implement it. But I think it was also the fact that there were fisherman going through the effort of doing gear retrieval and this is all happening outside of the season. When our initial model looked to be going in a good direction in terms of return on investment and making it something that would be somewhat self-sustaining, but in this last go-round, that was not the case and that was in part because there was no requirement that fisherman pay for any of their gear that was retrieved. That was part of the impetus I think behind drafting of the legislation that the Dungeness crab task force advocated for. It doesn’t mean that all crab fisherman were behind that.
Great, thank you so much! I’m going to switch over to Ladd – are you on the line?
Ladd: Thank you guys so much for having me. My name is Ladd Bayliss, I work with the North Carolina Coastal Federation. Today I was going to talk about our lost fishing gear recovery project. This project has gone on since 2014, through various sources of funding. Today, I’m going to focus on our most recent efforts in 2016-2017. But before we get there, just talk through the history briefly.
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As I said, this project began back in 2014, with funding from NC Sea Grant and NOAA Marine Debris Program. We basically started this program as a pilot project, we felt we had a lot of concepts to prove and a short time to prove it. So we asked to begin with the basics. We wanted to prove that fishermen could pick up crab pots during the closed period. In North Carolina there is a period in the winter, January 15-Feb 7 where anything left in the water as far as pots go, they are considered illegally set and can therefore be removed. Typically, historically, this is done by marine patrol, which is kind of our marine enforcement body under the Division of Marine Fisheries, which has been efficient as far as anyone can tell, but we believe that if the state would allow agents of the state, as we would call them, i.e. commercial fisherman, to do this work, we would be able to find more pots using both groups. So, with this funding we were able to complete a successful pilot project in the first 2 years, 2014 & 2015 in one part of the state, the northeastern part of North Carolina. After this success we received another round of NOAA Marine Debris Program funding and moved into our second two year set of work.
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In 2016, we continued funding and stuck with our pilot area in the northeast part of the state and after the cleanup that occurred in January, we had been working with some politicians in the state government and in the fall of last year, we got news that we had received $100K from the state to continue this pilot program, but on top of the past 3 cleanup seasons, we had the money to expand state-wide.
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Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the program and how it works, this is a really good chart to show the background of this project over time. This is a chart that shows how pots, derelict crab pots, have been collected in the state since 2003. As I said before, North Carolina marine patrol is typically responsible for this collection. You can see if you look to the far right column, the total, that number has significantly declined, there’s a declining trend over the years, which is interesting to look at because it basically points to you know, less lost crab pots being in the water, which we attribute mainly to cost. Back in 2003, crab pots were $15/pot, today they are nearly $45/pot. So that increase in cost we believe has led to less fishermen simply leaving their gear out because they would not incur a large financial loss if they did that. The other important part of this that helps to delineate where our program has taken place as the cells that are yellow, they outline the years that this project has been completed. As you can see on the far left column, District 1 which is the northeastern district where the pilot project has occurred for the past four years, obviously it’s been done longer than the rest of the state, which was just competed in that is past January in 2017.
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For this program, for the past 4 seasons, we’ve conducted it with basically two components. There is a shoreline cleanup component and then of course the water cleanup. The idea here is to essentially kickoff the project during the no-potting period once the water is closed. Before the watermen get on the water to go and look for pots, we have shoreline cleanups where we get volunteers to go to local popular areas that need cleaning up, as a way to boost the awareness and the engagement of the program outside of the group of fisherman that do the work. Next comes the water cleanup where obviously fishermen go out to retrieve the gear.
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This past year in January, the shoreline cleanup as I said, as this project went statewide, we collected over 3.5 tons of gear just on our one-day shoreline cleanup which occurred in 3 different coastal areas in North Carolina. In one day, again, nearly 140 volunteers, which was a great kick-off to the project. As we moved into the water cleanup, we began hiring fisherman as soon as we were sure of our funding in October of last year. The whole point with this cleanup is to let the fishermen decide where their cleanup is going to take place. We obviously have general ideas of where pots are and what areas we need fisherman in and that depends on where we hire fisherman from, but the guiding principle behind this project is that we’re hiring waterman for a reason because of their natal knowledge and inherent knowledge about the waters, the way they move and how that knowledge points them to where most pots end up and can be retrieved. This obviously was an incredible scaling up compared to previous years. The fisherman worked for 2.5 weeks, we hired 72 fisherman whereas past years had been a handful of a dozen. Three districts improved form our three year pilot project of just one district with over a million acres of water covered. We pay fisherman $400/boat/day. We require two fisherman/boat. This year was, as you could see back in the graph that I showed in the beginning, we collected a significant number of pots, over 4000 pots, which is the most that has been collected in over a decade. Again, looking at 2016-2017 numbers, over 35 tons, and about half of that was recycled.
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In addition to asking fisherman to simply look for buoyed pots left behind, we have had a side-scan sonar component with money from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we were able to buy some of these units to give to fisherman. It has been a very interesting piece of this project, difficult in some ways which I will talk about later on. Just so you know, this is one of the technology components that we use to look for pots without buoys that were still on the bottom but not visible from the water’s surface.
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Another piece of technology that we use, that any of you that are involved in this type of work, if you are looking for some kind of program to help you along in data collection, this has worked really well for us. We have used the Cybertracker program working in conjunction with NC Sea Grant who initially found it. It is a free program that you install on a digital Samsung tablet and it uses the internal GPS of the device and can collect waypoints and any other data that comes from a program that you create in a very simple form and doesn’t require any cell phone signal or Wi-Fi. This program was created in the middle of Africa several years ago to employ native bushmen and give them a career essentially in tracking and translating that local knowledge. So this program has worked really well. As you can see from this map, this free program generates these maps. As you can see, each dot represents a crab pot that was retrieved. So you have great data from the beginning that is all entered and cataloged perfectly as well as tracks. You can obviously see in these different areas, the little lines between the dots is a live GPS track of where each fisherman went to find the pots. It also provides a little bit of accountability as well. As you can a see a closer view.
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This is the state-wide map for pots that were retrieved this year. As you can see, the previous map covered the depiction of what was found in years past. This is, as you can see, a very large scaling-up of this effort which nearly tripled the amount of pots that we were able to retrieve. Again, each yellow dot represents a crab pot and is difficult to see in areas where there are pots essentially on top of each other.
**At this point, realized that the presentation was not being broadcasted successfully. Ladd finished her presentation orally without visuals**
Question during pause: How many commercial crab fishermen are there in North Carolina?
A: Last time I looked, between 3000-4000, that’s off the top of my head. But again, those are license holders, but not every commercial license is a crabber.
Q: How many pots are they allowed to fish?
A: There aren’t any pot limits in North Carolina currently, so typically there is no requirement when you purchase a commercial license to list how many pots you fish or if you’re going to be using a gillnet or a crab pot. It is very different from other states as there are no pot limits.
Ladd: The average number of pots that were retrieved per boat per district. In the Northern part of the state there is a much greater proportion, by at least two fold, of commercial fisherman, compared to other parts of the state. Because this project has been conducted in that area for the past three years and only expanded state-wide just recently, we basically found very clearly that proportionally, the fishermen in the other two districts were collecting many more pots than our District 1 fisherman because this type of cleanup using fisherman had not occurred ever. We see that as a positive trend. Moving on to the rest of the data we collected using this program. First and foremost, the most important thing we are looking for is waypoint information, where these pots are being pulled so we can gather further information. Prevention moving forward, how we can prevent the loss from occurring. In addition to that, we collected data on the condition of the pot as well as what was inside of the pot. We had about 46% of the pots that we collected did not have any bycatch in them and the majority of crabs that were found in the pots were alive and released. This is depicted in the graphs that you can’t see. Essentially, the successes that we experienced with this project is that technology is important. We experienced that with the Cybertracker program as well as the side-scan sonar to a degree. Again, watermen have inherent knowledge of this type of work that marine patrol agents and the general public don’t have. But when we work with these groups in conjunction - waterman, marine patrol, non-profits, it seems to garner a more successful project. Also, we learned that the state is trying to continue to support this work. Our first round of $100K was not recurring and the legislature is working to make the funding recurring in this session. Some of the challenges, year after year we realize that using the side-scan sonar is difficult with the limited time that we do have. It’s a very great technology but again, but the no-potting period is a very short amount of time comparatively speaking, and the learning curve for the side-scan sonar is pretty high. So we’re trying to find ways to work through that by giving fisherman these units to work with throughout the year. Another challenge, like our first presenter outlined, how do you continually fund this project moving forward, it’s a constant question. Each area of this project is different and it’s hard to manage it moving forward across the state in such different regions. Moving forward, we’re looking at ownership over the long term and how we’re going to make sure that each fisherman continues to get paid and invest in their resource. I’m happy to take any questions right now, sorry that you could not see the rest of my presentation.
Q: Your numbers of recovery are really impressive, I’m just curious what’s the percentage of buoyed vs. unbuoyed pots? You mentioned you started using a Humminbird, which we’re going to end up talking a little bit about, most of our work has used that. Just wanted to hear a little bit more about that and how many of those pots needed to be recovered through those methods vs. buoyed pots.
A: Because of a lot of different factors, mainly weather, the middle of January in North Carolina is often challenging, which makes the use of side-scan sonar difficult. We definitely, by and large, collected more pots with just looking for buoys. The side-scan did not retrieve a large number of pots this year. I can go back and get the number, but it was a handful and we’re using Garmin units this year.
Q: What is the typical depth that you are working in?
A: Up in the northeast, we’re averaging 11 ft. As we move farther south, it’s much shallower, so it’s not a lot of water, but a lot of water movement, if that makes sense.
Jenna: Ladd, thank you so much, we really appreciate it. I’m sorry about the technical difficulties again. Maybe there is a way we can get some of your figures out to the folks that were with us today. We’re going to move on to our last presentation. I’m going to mute the conference. We’re very excited to hear from Dr. Mark Sullivan and Steve Evert from Stockton University about their crab pot removal in New Jersey.
Mark: Great, thanks Jenna. Before we get started, I just wanted to acknowledge the other co-principal investigators that were involved in this project. Of course our commercial crabber partners that we’ve been working with over the last 5-6 years, Stockton University Marine Field Station support, dozens and dozens of undergraduate students have been involved in this project over the last couple of years, and then of course we’d like to acknowledge the generous support from the NOAA Marine Debris Removal Program.
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So I think most folks are probably familiar with some of the larger derelict fishing gear projects that have been completed in areas like Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, but sometimes crab pot loss goes undocumented or a little bit underappreciated in smaller estuary systems. Some of the coastal bays that we’ve been working with in southern New Jersey are quite shallow and have a complicated mix of sediment types. Some of these are often muddy or very soft and it’s difficult to pluck some of these pieces of fishing gear out of this sediment type. Most of this loss occurs where recreational boating intersects with commercial and/or recreational crabbing activities. One of the big benefits of this project has been partnering with the commercial crabbing industry. At this point, we’ve recovered upwards of 2200 pots as part of this project.
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All of our projects have the same set of objectives so I’ll go through these quickly. Objective 1 is to identify ghost pots with a scientific grade side-scan sonar, map the hot spots that result from that survey, and then create waypoint files that can be transitioned over to our commercial crabber partners. All of our partners are trained on low-cost sonar units, i.e. Humminbirds and other similar systems. And all of our crabber partners are working from their own small vessels, so they tend to be less than 28 feet and they typically don’t have larger A-frames and somewhat limited hauling capacity. Hopefully, in Objective 2, recover ghost pots, identify associated bycatch species, and then recycle/reuse fishable pots and hopefully put some of these pots back in the system for our commercial partners. Objective 3 revolves around constantly trying to maximize the efficiency of our projects, so find ways that we can recover more pots from the water and less time looking for pots. And then the final component of this is educating boaters, recreational and commercial crabbers, as to the various issues surrounding derelict fishing gear and really trying to break the cycle of gear loss so that 5-10 years down the road we don’t have to repeat these recovery efforts again.
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Any folks out there that are interested in setting up a similar recovery type project in their own shallow estuary system, we have a couple of steps that we want to share with folks. One is that you have to have a good idea of where the loss is occurring and this can be either commercial or recreational crab pots, but for the most part, most of the loss is occurring around well-traveled waterways, docks, marinas, water-front restaurants, and things of that nature.
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But you just can’t go by your intuition so typically you need to do a scientific-grade side-scan sonar survey. This gives you a little bit more confidence in your IDs so that when your commercial crabbers are going out on their recovery efforts, they are targeting actual pots rather than natural debris that might be on the bottom. You always want to have the best position data available so that your commercial crabber partners aren’t spending a lot time looking for the pots. You want to send them out to a waypoint and minimize the amount of time they are spending actually recovering the pots.
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Step 3, transfer the waypoints to the low-cost sonar units, Humminbirds, etc.
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And of course you have to train your recovery team and preferably you want to work with industry partners. We found this to be a really rewarding aspect of the project over the last 5-7 years. Training involves getting folks familiar with the different pieces of equipment, having preset instruments, limiting the options that are available, spending a good amount of time understanding the imagery so that the commercial partners are able definitively ID crab pots as opposed to some other item that might be on the bottom. And then you also want to end this with on the water training so that everyone gets the sense of issues related to currents and tides and how those can impact recovery efforts.
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We’ve really tried to reduce the amount of time that our commercial crabber partners are recording data in the field so anything that you can do to speed up the recovery process and limit the data collection is beneficial. One of the things that we’ve done is we streamlined this to the point where when folks are out in the field, they are taking a photo of the crab pot, a photo of the bycatch and then additional data is typically collected down the road on land, typically by undergraduate students that are involved in the project.
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Step 5 is to process your recovered crab pots. We have a crab pot processing day every spring where our commercial partners, scientists, colleagues, volunteers, undergraduate students, get together, disassemble pots that are not going to be put back into the fishery and set aside those pots that are deemed fishable. There’s a nice image at the bottom here of pots that were recovered as part of this effort and are now being deployed back into the fishery with a considerable amount of cost savings involved for the commercial community.
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What I’d like to do now is turn things over to Steve Evert and Steve’s going to really get into the nitty gritty about the on the water recovery efforts.
Steve: Thank you Mark and thanks everybody for being with us today, and for Jenna and everybody at NOAA for putting this together.
The derelict gear that we’re talking about here is primarily unbuoyed pots, most of what we’re talking about does have to do with the sonar work, which does present quite a few challenges. But once you get past those challenges, there are some benefits that we’re beginning to realize for the commercial fishermen, which I’ll hit on at the end.
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Pretty much all recovery efforts have some common needs. One is that you see, I’d say a strong target, when we’re talking acoustically, we want to be certain that it is a crab pot or a piece of fishing gear, not a piece of sod bank or piece of marsh. There are opportunities in some systems, and I’m sure you’ve seen it in North Carolina and in some of the other states in smaller estuaries, where you do have opportunities with the low tides, blow out tides in the winter, to do some visual surveys, to do some visual recovery of unbuoyed pots that go dry or bare on a low tide. Most of our work has been underwater through sonar recovery. See a target, mark a target. We use a buoy to mark our targets when necessary, and then recover the target. So all of our projects have these common needs.
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These are some of the tools that we’ve ended up with. There’s been some modifications over the years for the type of work that we’re doing, for the type of loss that we have in our system. There’s no more valuable tool than the low-cost sonar. We use Humminbird, North Carolina I think you said you’re using Garmin, they’re getting pretty common in the recreational fishing community and they can be pretty valuable instruments. A buoy to mark the target. So when we see a target we will mark it with a buoy. Not much longer line than the water depth you’re working in, and by the way, we’re working in generally 3-4 to maybe 10 ft of water, something like that in most of our areas. Single grapple hooks, literally just a grapple hook, we do bend the hook a little bit vertical than what you get out of the box, with a long amount of line. And then we also use daisy chains of hooks that are rigged through the line. If anybody ends up with questions about this gear, we can talk about it later. We’re more than happy to take calls after today.
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See the buoy, whether it’s usually acoustically, mark it with a buoy, so if you see a target at say 10 ft to your starboard side, yell 10 ft or if you see it yourself, throw a buoy. Now you have a visual marker on the surface of the water that is reasonably close to your known target. Some of our partners prefer to use the longer daisy chain method where they’ll circle that buoy. When we hook a pot, usually it just about stops the boat and I’ll talk more about that. Most of our pots are at least in the sediment a few inches if not more. And we’ve also come to start to throw individual grapples. Sometimes we can do that without buoying, especially in dense areas.
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So this kind of leads to this, see it and snag it, type of scenario. Best case scenario for a good day of recovery, works especially well in dense areas. Works well with high quality survey data from earlier efforts. Basically we have two grapple hooks ready at the back of the boat, see in the bottom right picture, a grapple hanging there on the transom that has probably 40 feet of line on it. Depending on how many people you’re working with or what you’re boat set-up is, basically you have people ready to throw those grapples. If you are fortunate enough to literally split the pot, which that top left image is just that, where the transducer went directly over top of the target, and you saw it on both sides, you can literally just throw that grapple right off the back and I’d say 7/10 times you’d get it on your first attempt. If its a few feet to the right like the lower image, that is also attainable by just tossing the grapple in that general direction. And I added a little note here, this year in particular we started using a bow mounted transducer, so we took the transducer from a Humminbird, made a basically fold-up wooden, you could do it out of aluminum, whatever, mount that went off of the bow. The advantage of that in doing sonar recovery is that it gives you that 20 ft lead time. So if you’re working out of a 20 ft center consul for instance and you have a bow mounted transducer and you split that pot or come close to splitting that pot, you’re just dropping your grapple hooks off the back and maybe making a little adjustment with the boat or what have you, and that has worked pretty well for us. If anybody wants more information about that, again we’re happy to talk a little bit more after today’s conference, individually.
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If we had to sum up some of the keys to our success in recovering these pots using sonar, technique 1 is that we feel it is very important to conduct broad, professional grade side-scan sonar surveys. We do that as the science-side, we do that type of work at Stockton. We’ll spend several days surveying coastal bays and putting together the waypoints and then we do our recoveries at a later date. This helps identify hot spots. If you’re sending commercial partners being paid $300-400 a day to an area that doesn’t have fairly dense pots, they’re going to be looking for an awful long time with a little hummingbird sonar to find a pot. You’ve got to get them good waypoint information to increase that efficiency. Understanding the recovery challenges of some systems. I don’t know if they see this in North Carolina, I suspect they might, but one of the things that we have in these soft sediment systems is our pots are literally in the mud, sometimes a few inches, sometimes half of a pot has vibrated into the soft sediment through storm events. This is especially true of the older legacy pots. Those do not just come right out of the bottom. We’re using small boats, you need to use low speed. If you don’t use these methods, you’re going to end up just ripping through, getting frustrated, not getting the whole pot out of the water. It makes it more difficult, but to truly get the gear out of the water, it’s what needs to be done. That picture in the middle is one of our fisherman towing a pot in a circle to get the sometimes hundred pounds of mud out of the pot before being able to physically bring it on the boat. Now that’s not every pot, but it can be quite a few so it’s important to know that. And as both of the other projects have mentioned, and Mark mentioned earlier, partnering with the commercial community is extremely beneficial. These guys and girls know where the areas of loss likely are, they know what they’re doing on the bay, obviously. We train them on how to use the sonars, we hire them to work on our project. We on our most recent project were paying $350/day for this type of work. But probably one of the best things that has come out of our project and come out of using the sonars is our trained partners, maybe they put in 15-20 days each on the project, they know how to use that Humminbird sonar and as wary of it as they are on Day 1, they love it now because during the season, they’re taking the time to recover probably 80, attempting to recover any of their lost pots and in most cases, recovering about 80% of their lost pots during the season. We believe that is the most effective way 1) to help commercial fisherman by them not losing gear and not losing money, and 2) to break the cycle of lost gear in systems like this. This really hinges on the Humminbird aspect of our work in particular.
(next slide)
Just a couple of things we’ve been able transfer some of these programs to other funded projects in the area. This is just a quick bullet list of some of the benefits. We’ve had two funding cycles through NOAA, kind of a timeline of how we got into all of this. We benefited a lot from the Chesapeake group, Kirk Havens and others. When we first started, we developed a lot of our own techniques, made a lot of partnerships with the fishermen, and there’s some of the numbers. We put about over $60K worth of direct pay or returned gear into relatively small commercial fishing community in south New Jersey, over 2000 pots, other projects, undergraduate research, all sorts of good things have come of this program to date.
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This is another thing that’s come from our first project and is being worked on by another group now as well, Jacques Cousteau Reserve, and that’s the WeCrab NJ website. I encourage you to go check that website out, we have some recovery resources on there, videos from our earlier efforts, and that website is actually set to be updated quite a bit in the next little bit and there will be even more recovery resources on that website. Feel free please to reach out to Mark and I if you have questions about working in these types of environments and certainly check out WeCrab and thank you NOAA for today and for the funding. With that, we’ll take any questions.
Jenna: Does anybody have questions for Mark and Steve? I will say that they just had a very successful Earth Day pot processing day where they went through about 600 pots and were able to recycle about 50-55 of them and got a lot students and everything involved. Really great, good successful event. If there are no questions right now, I want to thank all of our presenters for joining us today and we really appreciate you taking the time to share your projects with us. We will be planning to hold another Marine Debris Program webinar probably in the fall to talk about prevention projects. Thank you all for joining, have a great afternoon.

TRASH TALK: What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

It’s not a floating island of trash, like a garbage dump or a landfill. It’s also not the only patch. They exist all throughout the ocean, and the Pacific Garbage Patch just happens to be the most famous. Garbage patches are large areas of marine debris concentration that are formed by rotating ocean currents called gyres - kind of like big whirlpools that suck things in. A garbage patch is made up of tiny plastic pieces called “microplastics” that are less than 5 millimeters long. It’s more like pepper flakes swirling in a soup than something you can skim off the surface.

First Place Winner: 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the first place winner for the 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

Imagine you are swimming at Cedar Point beach. Imagine the water is smooth against your skin and the sun is warm on your face .
Now imagine this is what you have to swim in. This is an example of the unfortunate reality of marine debris and pollution.
Over 1 million sea birds and mammals are killed each year at the expense of laziness of human beings.
An estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage and debris have been dumped into the Earth's oceans and waterways
Our Earth is irreplaceable , and it is not only the possibility, but the responsibility for every individual to be capable of maintaining our world.
The residents of Ohio are gifted with an extraordinary state with a magnitude of natural beauties.
Dispose of your garbage properly and recycle if possible. No action can be considered too small in protecting our marine environment, the world's value is immeasurable.
Only you can prevent marine debris and pollution Reduce, Reuse, and recycle.

Second Place Winner: 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio PSA Competition

This video is the second place winner for the 2017 "Communicating for a Clean Future" Ohio Marine Debris Challenge. This competition invited students from Ohio's Lake Erie coastal communities to create public service announcements to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris.

Video Transcript

Marine debris causes wild life entanglement and ingestion, economic costs, and habitat damage.
Many animals, such as sea turtles. seabirds. and marine mammal s have been known to ingest marine debris. Debris ingestion may lead to loss of nutrition, internal injury, intestinal blockage, starvation, and even death.
It can scour, break, smother, and otherwise damage important marine habitats. Many habitats serve as the basis of marine ecosystems and are critical to the survival of many other species.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.
There is no part of the world that is unaffected by marine debris, however it is preventable.
Get involved in local cleanups and encourage your community to help stop marine debris. You can also help by bringing reusable items instead of disposable ones to the beach. Keep the sidewalks, streets, and gutters free of trash because they empty into our Great Lakes.

First Place: 2016 “Communicating for a Clean Future” Marine Debris PSA Competition

This video was the first place winner for the 2016 “Communicating for a Clean Future” Marine Debris Public Service Announcement Competition in Ohio's 9th Congressional District.

Video Transcript

Marine Debris - what is it?
Marine debris is any man made solid material that is released in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway, deliberately or accidentally.
It can be something as simple as a discarded soda can, a cigarette butt, or a plastic bag; which are potentially harmful to marine life.
It affects things from the environment to the economy, from fishing and navigation, to human health and safety.
There are many ways to reduce marine debris, and there are many alternatives to items to use, but you can easily begin by following three main rules...

DOC Talks: What We Can Do About Marine Debris

Join Krista Stegemann, the NOAA Marine Debris Program's Communications and Education Specialist, as she talks about marine debris at the first "DOC Talks" for the Department of Commerce. This 10-minute video gives an overview of what marine debris is, where it comes from, and what we're doing about it.

Our Debris Filling the Sea

What do a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic have in common? Unfortunately, it's marine debris. Even the most remote locations on Earth are fouled by man-made garbage and cast-outs. And a majority of the debris that's found comes from land-based sources.

Ocean Today is an interactive exhibit that plays short videos on ocean related themes.
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What is Marine Debris?

Did you know that 52 metric tons of marine debris accumulate on uninhabited islands around the world? Marine debris is trash in the ocean that animals may confuse with food or plants. Seals get tangled in old nets and can die, turtles eat plastic bags hoping for a tasty jellyfish and can drown. Watch this video to see how NOAA is leading the way to minimize marine debris and find out what you can do to help marine animals and our oceans!

Marine Debris

Marine debris is the trash that eventually enters the ocean. It includes trash on the beach and trash that you can't see that is floating in the ocean. It is a big problem. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is working to tackle this problem that can harm marine mammals and sea turtles. What will you do to help?

"Marine Debris" is just one of many exciting videos on The Ocean Today Kiosk. For full effect, visit the Ocean Today Kiosk at the Smithsonian Institution's Sant Ocean Hall or at an aquarium near you.

TRASH TALK: Impacts of Marine Debris

Would you want to swim at a beach littered with trash? Of course not. And the animals who live in the ocean don't either - the difference is they don't have a choice.
Marine species often become tangled in debris, from fishing nets to six-pack rings and many mistake plastic debris for food, and eat it. This fills their stomachs with junk they can't digest.Debris can also damage important habitats, like coral reefs, by breaking or smothering them. Corals serve as the base of the marine ecosystem, and impacts here can be felt all the way to you and me. Let's prevent those impacts on wildlife. We need the ocean - and everything in it. And the ocean needs us to keep it free of debris.

TRASH TALK Webinar for Educators

This webinar provides fun activities that you can organize to engage people in museums, zoos, aquariums, learning centers and schools.
Featuring NOAA Marine Debris Program Educational Specialist Leah Henry, this fun and informative ten minute webinar provides a quick demonstration of hands on activities you can easily offer after you show any TRASH TALK videos.

TRASH TALK: What Can We Do About Marine Debris?

There are marine debris solutions, and together, we can prevent litter from ending up in the ocean. So what can we do? Well, the ultimate solution is prevention, and we need to keep that as our highest priority. We can reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep debris out of the ocean in the first place. You can bring your own shopping bag, drink out of a reusable bottle, and participate in things like a shoreline cleanup. Join a group cleaning the beach, or grab some friends and clean up your street! It's easy.

TRASH TALK: Marine Debris and Plastics

The 5 most common items found during the International Coastal Cleanup are plastic cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and plastic straws & drink stirrers. Notice anything in common with those things? It's a lot of single-use, disposable plastic.

TRASH TALK: Where Does Marine Debris Come From?

Marine debris comes from many different sources and enters the ocean in many ways. Intentional littering and dumping are a big cause of marine debris. Sometimes the trash goes directly into the ocean, like when beachgoers don’t pick up after themselves. Or sometimes, marine debris is indirectly generated in a city hundreds of miles from the ocean.

TRASH TALK: What is Marine Debris?

Marine debris is one of the biggest pollution problems facing the world's oceans and waterways today.
Marine debris is any man-made, solid material that enters waterways directly through littering or indirectly via rivers, streams and storm drains. Marine debris can be simple items such as a discarded soda can, cigarette butt, or plastic bag that ends up in the ocean potentially harming marine life. What this video to find out more and share it with others.

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