No Silver Bullet: Shotgun Wad Debris Prevention at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Several shotgun wads, made of plastic, lay on the sand.

This project turns six years of marine debris shoreline monitoring data 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

Region: California

Project Dates: July 2019 - June 2021

Who is 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, will 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 is the project and why is 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. 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, the project partners will implement 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 will continue 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.