No Silver Bullet: Shotgun Wad Debris Prevention at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
This project turned six years of marine debris shoreline monitoring data by Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary into action by implementing a behavior change campaign for waterfowl hunters in the greater San Francisco Bay Area to help reduce the amount of shotgun wads entering waterways.
Type of Project: Prevention
Project Dates: July 2019 - June 2021
Who was involved?
The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS), Greater Farallones Association, Root Solutions, and other project partners, with the support of NOAA Marine Debris Program funding, worked to reduce the loss of plastic shotgun wads by surveying hunters to reveal the barriers to preventing shotgun wad debris, implementing best management practices, and evaluating the effectiveness of their efforts.
What was the project and why was it important?
During their previous shoreline monitoring efforts through the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP), GFNMS gathered data on the amount and types of marine debris at six sites along the Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo county coastline between 2012 and 2018. They found that shotgun wads, the plastic piece of a shotgun shell that is used to separate the shot from the powder, are a common type of debris found on outer coast beaches. These shotgun wads are thought to come from waterfowl hunting, year-round shooting ranges, and target shooting fields along the San Francisco Bay and Delta. Once shot out of a gun, the clear plastic wads can be difficult to locate and properly dispose of, and can end up in the environment, the San Francisco Bay, and the ocean.
In order to help reduce the amount of shotgun wads entering waterways, project partners implemented a behavior change campaign engaging waterfowl hunters at two Bay Area hunting reserves, Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, and Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, GFNMS and the Greater Farallones Association continued to conduct marine debris surveys at four MDMAP shoreline survey sites in order to assess changes in the amount of shotgun wads on shorelines throughout this campaign.
What were the project results?
The results of the pilot project affirmed that a behavior change campaign is an effective way to address this type of marine debris that can be easily connected to a specific activity and location. In order to encourage these behaviors, shotgun wad disposal receptacles were installed for three weeks in January 2020 at two hunting reserves in San Francisco Bay: Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge and Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. In-person interviews and surveys with hunters and reserve managers provided valuable insight on receptacle size, type, and location, and educational signage. The pilot project is documented in the report, “A Behavior Change Campaign to Reduce Plastic Shotgun Wad Debris on the North-central California Coast.” The report provides recommendations to reduce shotgun wads in sanctuary and adjacent waters and on beaches by partnering with hunting reserves and hunters to pick up and properly dispose of shotgun wads. It also shares the lessons learned through carrying out this pilot project.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.