Debris Removal in Beaufort Harbor and the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve

Derelict vessels on shore.
Removing abandoned vessels like these protects wildlife, water quality, and habitat. (Photo Credit: Town of Beaufort)

The Town of Beaufort, NC, in partnership with the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve, is improving habitats in Beaufort Harbor and the adjacent waters of the Rachel Carson Reserve, through the removal of illegal and abandoned moorings, derelict vessels, derelict fishing gear, and other medium and large debris items.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal

Region: Southeast

Project Dates: September 2018 to February 2020

Who is involved?
With the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Town of Beaufort, NC has teamed up with N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve and Atlantic Coast Marine Group to remove abandoned vessels, derelict fishing gear, and other medium and large debris items. The team will also be removing shoreline debris through volunteer clean-ups. The BoatUS Foundation will develop a professional documentary video showcasing the project and the debris removal in Beaufort Harbor.

What is the project and why is it important?
One of the primary environmental challenges at the Rachel Carson Reserve and Beaufort waterfront is marine debris originating from the harbor areas, such as improperly secured boats, sunken vessels, illegal and often abandoned moorings, and derelict fishing gear. At times, unsecured boats, either sunken or floating, land on marsh habitats within the Rachel Carson Reserve and Town of Beaufort harbor. These debris items are almost impossible for staff and volunteers to move. They can also contain hazardous material and cause damage to sensitive areas, such as marsh. Other debris, both on the bottom of the harbor and in the water column, can impact habitat and harm wildlife. Removing these items from the local environment protects wildlife, water quality, and habitat. Additionally, reducing marine debris will open navigational channels, and improve the beauty and access to recreation in Town of Beaufort and Rachel Carson Reserve waters.