A mound of ropes, net, and other fishing gear piled on a rocky shoreline.

Regional Collaboration to Address Marine Debris in the Gulf of Maine

Partners across the Gulf of Maine are working together to prevent and remove marine debris by engaging volunteers, local businesses, coastal communities, fishing industries, and environmental justice populations in learning about the impact of marine debris on natural resources and taking action to make a difference.

Type of Project: North America Marine Debris Prevention and Removal

Region: Northeast

Project Dates: October 2021 - March 2024

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Gulf of Maine Association is working in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Council, Center for Coastal Studies, Urban Harbors Institute, Surfrider Foundation, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, and Huntsman Marine Science Centre to reduce marine debris by conducting more than 100 shoreline cleanups and implementing actions to prevent marine debris from entering the Gulf of Maine.

What is the project and why is it important?
The Gulf of Maine is a dynamic ecosystem that provides important habitat for countless coastal and marine species. It’s also home to commercial and recreational fisheries and supports many livelihoods in coastal communities from Cape Cod all the way to Nova Scotia. Its 7,500 miles of international coastline presents a unique opportunity for cross-border collaboration and stewardship between nations.

Project partners are conducting an international collaborative effort to address plastics and other marine debris in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Partners are implementing coastal cleanups, expanding recycling, hosting outreach and awareness programs, and engaging businesses and community members in reducing plastics and other sources of marine debris in support of the 2019 Gulf of Maine Marine Debris Action Plan.

The Center for Coastal Studies is conducting beach cleanups along Cape Cod. They are also partnering with the Urban Harbors Institute and Nova Scotia Beach Garbage Awareness to host cleanups along the coast of mainland Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, respectively. In addition to leading do-it-yourself cleanups across the Gulf of Maine, Surfrider Foundation will host at least three cleanups in environmental justice communities or in collaboration with environmental justice entities to help elevate awareness of plastic pollution and engage marginalized populations. Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is expanding their Adopt-a-Beach Program by increasing cleanups in the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Hampshire and expanding cleanups in Maine. They’re also encouraging proper disposal of fishing line by expanding their monofilament recycling program to at least three new locations in New Hampshire and southern Maine. Small PVC collection tubes are being installed in high-traffic recreational fishing locations. In New Brunswick, Huntsman Marine Science Centre is implementing coastal cleanups and expanding recycling and reuse of rope associated with fishing gear.

Together, these efforts will widen the scope of engagement among businesses, fishermen, boaters, and the general public. This international collaboration allows partners in each state and province across the entire Gulf of Maine to work together to share knowledge and lessons learned so that protected species, fisheries, ocean and coastal habitats, recreation areas, and other natural resources are better protected from the harmful effects of marine debris.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.

Last updated Tue, 05/21/2024 - 05:15 pm EDT