Casting a Wide Net: A Community Approach on Marine Debris in the Niagara River Watershed

A person paddling a kayak smiles for a picture. A laundry basket lined with a black garbage bag has been attached to the front of the kayak.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will lead volunteer marine debris removal efforts that consist of surface debris removal in the Niagara River/Lake Erie watershed, install Reel In and Recycle monofilament bins at popular fishing sites, and host multilingual pollution prevention workshops for the City of Buffalo’s refugee fishing community.

Type of Project: Removal

Region: Great Lakes

Project Dates: November 2019 - October 2021

Who is involved?
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Removal Grant, will lead volunteer marine debris removal efforts in the Niagara River/Lake Erie watershed, and work with the City of Buffalo’s refugee fishing community to prevent recreational fishing debris.

What is the project and why is it important?
In a recent study on microplastics in tributaries in the Great Lakes, the Buffalo River had the second highest concentration of microplastics, including plastic fragments. In order to address a potential microplastic source, the project will engage 540 volunteers to remove approximately 2 tons of surface debris and prevent 8.26 tons of debris from entering nearby waters. In addition, they will implement Marine Debris Pollution Prevention workshops, translated into twelve languages, and held at a refugee resettlement community centers. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will also work to engage recreational anglers about marine debris hazards caused from abandoned gear and install 10 monofilament recycling bins at popular fishing sites as a place to safely discard use fishing line. Lastly, they will coordinate the creation of four educational displays created with non-recyclable debris which will be displayed at the local aquarium, zoo, and Waterkeeper’s offices. The removal and prevention of marine debris in this project will reduce risks of wildlife entanglement in derelict line and nets, and also reduce a potential source of microplastics to the river and Great Lakes.

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