The NOAA Marine Debris Program Awards Funding to 14 New Projects to Remove Marine Debris Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Rope, line, buoys, and other fishing gear on a rocky beach.
Lost fishing gear on a beach on the coast of Massachusetts (Credit: NOAA).

After a highly competitive review process, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce the 14 recipients of our NOAA Marine Debris Removal awards for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, totalling over $69 million in federal funding for marine debris removal. The projects recommended for awards under this nationwide competitive funding opportunity continue the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s commitment to make tangible, beneficial impacts to coastal and marine habitats and communities across the nation through a variety of marine debris removal methods. 

Funding for this opportunity was provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and leveraged funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a transformational opportunity to make an impact against the climate crisis across the country. This initiative includes the prevention, mitigation, and removal of marine debris from coastal communities and marine ecosystems.

This competition focused on two priority areas. Priority 1 focused on removing large marine debris, such as abandoned and derelict vessels and derelict fishing gear, and Priority 2 on using proven interception technologies to capture marine debris. These two priorities were reviewed as separate, parallel tracks under the funding opportunity.

The Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023 recommended projects are:

Priority 1:

BoatUS Foundation (National, $10,000,000) will administer a national competitive grant program for removal of abandoned and derelict vessels. The project will also develop a national database to track abandoned and derelict vessels, while supporting outreach and education on the issue. Learn more about this project.

Center for Coastal Studies (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts; $2,718,531) will lead a new coalition of New England nongovernmental organizations to remove, document, and recycle, repurpose, or properly dispose of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear and end-of-life fishing gear from the Gulf of Maine’s water and shorelines. The project spans the coastlines of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts and seeks to build capacity and share information across states. Learn more about this project.

Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas; $7,725,000) will administer a regional competitive grant program for large marine debris removal in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The project will also remove previously identified abandoned and derelict vessels across Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Learn more about this project.

Isla Mar Research Expeditions (Puerto Rico, $4,000,000) will remove abandoned and derelict vessels throughout Puerto Rico. The project will also establish a coordination strategy for abandoned and derelict vessel prevention, management, and response island-wide. Learn more about this project.

Lynnhaven River NOW (Virginia, $2,944,135) will remove abandoned and derelict vessels from across the coastal zone of Virginia. The project will also use surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather information to assist in the development of an abandoned and derelict vessel removal and prevention program for the state. Learn more about this project.

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (Multi-state, $14,999,292) will remove large marine debris from five national marine sanctuaries and two Tribal ancestral waters located off the coasts of Washington, California, Texas and Louisiana and include: Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park; Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary; Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with California State Parks; and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Neah Bay, in partnership with the Makah Tribe and Quileute Tribe. Learn more about this project.

North Carolina Coastal Federation (North Carolina, $4,500,000) will remove storm-related debris, lost fishing gear, and vessels throughout coastal North Carolina. In addition, the project will seek to prevent marine debris that future storms generate through broad public outreach to increase awareness and encourage more resilient building techniques for waterfront structures. Learn more about this project.

Pacific Coastal Research & Planning (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Freely Associated States, $4,000,000) will remove abandoned and derelict vessels in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and large marine debris in the Freely Associated State of Palau. The project will seek to build and establish marine debris removal partnerships in the territories and Freely Associated States. Learn more about this project.

Pinellas County Government (Florida, $2,250,000) will remove more than 200,000 tires from Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico that were placed in the 1960s-1980s as artificial reefs.

Stockton University (New Jersey, $1,429,812) will recover derelict fishing gear and remove abandoned and derelict vessels throughout coastal bays of New Jersey. The project will also build marine debris prevention and removal expertise through collaboration with commercial crabbers, training, rapid response coordination, and dissemination of recovery methods across industries. Learn more about this project.

University of Alaska Fairbanks (Alaska, $5,850,000) will partner with Alaska Sea Grant to administer awards for projects that remove large marine debris. The project will carry out seasonal cleanups using vessels to reach debris in remote and high debris accumulation areas, as well as evaluate recycling techniques for marine debris. Learn more about this project.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (National, $8,000,000) will administer a national competitive grant program for the removal of derelict fishing traps. The project will also remove and recycle abandoned traps from Chesapeake Bay, create a national dashboard to standardize data collection, and use the data to assess potential solutions to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of lost gear. Learn more about this project.

Priority 2:

California Department of Parks and Recreation (California, $268,881) will improve an existing trash boom that captures debris entering the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve from Mexico. The project will reposition the trash boom, install new floats to better reinforce the boom against water flow, and develop an educational outreach video to share lessons learned and diverse perspectives from each of the three nations represented in the Tijuana River watershed—the Kumeyaay Nation, Mexico, and the United States. Learn more about this project.

University of Florida (Florida, $747,944) will install trash capture devices, litter booms, and monofilament collection bins to intercept litter in partnership with local governments and state aquatic preserves in Pasco and Levy Counties. This project will also develop a toolkit on the implementation of litter interception technologies for municipalities, which will allow the program to expand into other counties. Learn more about this project.

View more NOAA projects recommended for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law here.