Debris Removal and Capacity Building Through a Regional Center for Marine Debris in Alaska
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is working with partners to establish a Center for Marine Debris in Kodiak, Alaska, to support targeted marine debris removal projects and ongoing collection, monitoring, transport, recycling, and recovery.
Type of Project: Removal
Project Dates: January 2023 - June 2026
Who is involved?
The University of Alaska Fairbanks, with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, is leading a consortium of groups to establish a Center for Marine Debris in Kodiak. The Center, co-led by Alaska Sea Grant and the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project, will provide capacity to the marine debris community across the State of Alaska, with a specific focus on disposal. Initial field projects include cleanups led by the Douglas Indian Association and Ocean Plastics Recovery Project, derelict fishing gear surveys led by the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, and removal and disposal of legacy debris from the Native Village of Port Heiden.
What is the project and why is it important?
There is an active and dedicated marine debris community across Alaska. Many of these groups have been working on the issue for years, gaining valuable experience and insight. This community is continuing to grow as new organizations take on marine debris and the consistent challenges that are unique to Alaska.
In order to address these challenges, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is working with partners to establish a long-term Center for Marine Debris based in Kodiak, Alaska. This Center, a collaborative effort with Alaska Sea Grant and the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project, will facilitate and support targeted removal operations. The Center will also serve the identified and emergent needs of the marine debris community across the state, including debris collection, monitoring, analysis, transport, and disposal. This work will support groups in identifying and implementing optimal disposal approaches, including recycling and the necessary sorting and processing steps for each recycling technology. Additionally, the Center will provide both guidance and direct capacity for debris processing at facilities in Kodiak.
The Center will also directly support the assessment and removal of marine debris. Four projects across Alaska will assess, remove, or dispose of debris from a variety of habitats. In Juneau, the Douglas Indian Association will tag and remove derelict crab pots from the Gastineau Channel. On St. Paul Island, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island will conduct sonar surveys to identify and quantify legacy derelict crab pots that pose a significant and longstanding concern for the local community. In the Native Village of Port Heiden, previously collected debris will be shipped and processed through the Center in Kodiak. On Kayak Island, the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project will lead a project to collect and remove debris on high-accumulation and high energy shorelines.
In future years, the project will also provide competitive awards for the removal of debris in alignment with priorities within the region, and in support of the anticipated Alaska Marine Debris Action Plan.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.