Coral Bay Community Council Removes Derelict Vessels in USVI

A derelict vessel is partially submerged in Coral Bay.
A derelict vessel is submerged in Coral Bay, USVI. Credit: CBCC

Coral Bay Community Council, Inc. and the NOAA Marine Debris Program removed derelict vessels, involved locals in marine debris cleanups, and worked with local waste management and recycling groups to reduce marine debris.

Project Dates: June 2014 - March 2016

What’s the project?
The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a local watershed management agency, removed marine debris along shorelines, mangroves, and in the bay’s boat mooring areas of Coral Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

After a boat grounding, owners and volunteers often manage to refloat the vessel. But over the last 24 years, many vessels have been abandoned and pose a hazard within Inner Coral Harbor’s shallow waters. Removing these derelict vessels before strong storms can prevent them from battering the surrounding mangroves and marine habitat, and mitigate potential damage to Coral Bay.

In addition to derelict vessel removal, this project involved volunteers to remove small and medium-sized debris, expanded a marine debris reporting and reduction program, and conducted education activities focused on tourists, boaters, and shoreline restaurants to reduce land-based debris.

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, CBCC, a non-profit organization committed to the healthy future of Coral Bay, engaged the community in environmental education, infrastructure design, as well as environmentally-responsible land development and planning.

What does it accomplish?
This project removed up to 12 derelict vessels in Coral Bay. CBCC developed an inventory of derelict vessels and prioritized vessel removal based on multiple factors, including determining which vessels pose the greatest potential for causing future environmental damage. CBCC also worked with the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) to improve waste management practices and make recycling more efficient and convenient.

What is something unique about the project?
The marine debris removal and disposal in this project worked in concert with the progress CBCC had already made in its integrated solid waste management process design that emphasizes reduction, reuse, and recycling. That planning project provided the VIWMA with the reports needed to expedite (and locate funding for) the removal of the dumpsters from the mangrove shoreline and in the building of a reuse, recycle, and household waste disposal/transfer center in Coral Bay.