Removing Debris from New York's Jamaica Bay
Volunteers remove debris from Jamaica Bay. Credit: ALS
Volunteers remove debris from Jamaica Bay. Credit: ALS

American Littoral Society and the NOAA Marine Debris Program piloted a marine debris removal project in New York's Jamaica Bay.

Project Dates: June 2014 - June 2017

What’s the project?

In this pilot project, the American Littoral Society (ALS) removed marine debris from saltmarsh, intertidal flats, and other parts of New York’s coast, which improved essential fish habitat and helped prevent future marine debris accumulation.

ALS also connected people to Jamaica Bay in New York and increased public knowledge on marine debris issues by engaging community volunteers in debris removal and native grass planting. In addition, ALS developed more compelling ways to present the data they collected, developing a marine debris reduction outreach program for communities directly contributing to litter on the project sites, and implementing a proven marine debris reduction certification program to incentivize debris reduction in local waterways.

Who is involved?

With support from the Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, ALS led community volunteers in removing marine debris, improving existing ways of presenting marine debris data to individuals, beach captains, community boards and town councils, environmental commissions, and the local press.

What does it accomplish?

ALS has been engaged in community-led marine debris removal in Jamaica Bay for more than 25 years. Jamaica Bay is surrounded by the densely populated commercial and residential populations of New York City, and ALS has been successful at mobilizing large numbers of corporate, school, and faith-based volunteer groups to engage in marine debris removal. Volunteers also document the quantity and type of debris they remove and report results back to ALS. Through this project, ALS removed 59 tons of marine debris from 22 acres of salt marsh, salt meadow, and mud flats with the help of 1,600 volunteers and participated in 30 outreach events.

What is something unique about the project?

In 2003, ALS began segregating the cleanup data collected down to the municipal level and developed a web site for volunteers to sign up for local cleanups locally and then view data collected in previous years. Now, ALS can more easily manipulate the data and pilot more projects to educate people at a local level on their role in creating marine debris.