Derelict Vessel Removal and Habitat Restoration in Bayou La Batre

A partially-submerged abandoned and derelict vessel.
Twenty-one ADVs are being removed from the waters of Bayou La Batre through this project.

The City of Bayou La Batre, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program teamed up to remove 21 abandoned and derelict vessels and other marine debris from the waters of Bayou La Batre. They also actively restored marsh habitat in the Bayou and led community outreach to prevent future derelict vessels and marine debris.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Gulf of Mexico

Project Dates: August 2015 - July 2016

Who is involved?
The City of Bayou La Batre, with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, removed 21 abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) and other debris from Bayou La Batre, and restored approximately 19,300 square feet of habitat. Parker-Martin Consulting Group coordinated this effort, bringing together the City of Bayou La Batre, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Bayou La Batre Port Authority on the removal of the vessels. Restoration was led by the Marine Environmental Science Consortium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), with help from volunteers from The Nature Conservancy. Education and outreach about the impacts of marine debris to the community was led by Parker- Martin Consulting.

What is the project and why is it important?
Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a problem in Bayou La Batre, mostly due to owners that have abandoned their vessels for various reasons. They create both serious navigational hazards and ecological threats. This large form of marine debris can scar and damage the surrounding habitat as well as create fields of debris as the hulls, riggings, insulation, and other materials decay. ADVs can also contain hazardous materials, such as oil, paints, and lubricants, which can leak into and pollute the surrounding environment.

This project aimed to remove 21 ADVs from the bayou, ranging from a fiberglass skiff to an 80-foot barge. This removal enabled the passive restoration of the affected habitats, which were monitored by DISL. The City of Bayou La Batre, DISL, and volunteers through The Nature Conservancy also actively restored local damaged salt marsh through plantings and by removing small debris items from the affected area. In all, approximately 19,300 square feet of impacted habitat was restored through both passive and active restoration efforts.

To prevent future abandonment of vessels and marine litter in the community, the project partners also implemented a public awareness and outreach campaign to educate the local community about proper mooring practices and vessel disposal options. Outreach materials also targeted local high school and middle schools to educate them on the impacts of marine debris. To reach people in this highly multilingual community, community meetings with translators were also held.