Dog River Derelict Vessel Removal

Identified Derelict Vessel in Marsh.
Derelict Vessel in Dog River Marsh. Credit: DISL
NOAA supported the removal of abandoned and derelict vessels in Dog River, Alabama to restore habitat and educate boat owners on how to properly secure and dispose of vessels.

Project Dates: August 2013 - December 2014

What is the project?
Many factors can lead to the presence of unsightly and ecologically damaging abandoned or derelict vessels (ADVs) along coastal states. In the Gulf of Mexico region, hurricanes often displace or ground vessels. Additionally, boat owners neglect or purposefully abandon vessels in rivers and marshes when they become too expensive to maintain. ADVs pose an immediate problem for the community and surrounding habitat.

Dog River is a seven-mile river located on the northwest side of Mobile Bay with 60% of its watershed in the City of Mobile. The NOAA Marine Debris Program supported the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) in researching ADV impacts, removal of vessels, educating boat owners and the public on better ways to secure vessels prior to large storm events and restoring damaged seagrass habitat. With our program's support, 24 to 36 high priority vessels in Dog River were removed and two sites were planted with native seagrass for restoration.

Who is involved?
DISL led the Dog River restoration effort as part of the NOAA Restoration Center and MDP’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant program. They worked closely with partnering agencies Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and nonprofit organizations, Ocean Conservancy and Dog River Clearwater Revival, for technical and outreach support and for help to identify removal sites, develop of signage, and educational materials.

What does it accomplish?
The derelict vessel removal and restoration project benefited Dog River’s emergent wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, riparian boundaries, and un-vegetated soft bottoms. With restoration of this habitat there is hope to see seagrass returning as well as many finfish, shellfish, blue crab, endangered sturgeon, and various shrimp species. The outreach campaign hoped to reduce the number of derelict vessels that cause both navigational and environmental hazards in Alabama's waterways by educating boaters. Research efforts added to knowledge regarding the impact of ADVs on riparian habitat.

What is something unique about the project?
The Dog River Derelict Vessels Removal project combined research, removal, restoration, and prevention efforts providing a comprehensive solution for ADVs in coastal Alabama. Knowledge gained from this project could inform other ADV removal and restoration efforts.