Hotspot Debris Removal from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Volunteers kayaking nearshore to clean up debris.
In January 2018 Save Our Shores volunteers removed 104 pounds of debris from Elkhorn Slough. (Photo Credit: Save Our Shores/Shay Hlavaty)
Volunteers clean up debris on the shore of the Pajaro River.
Save Our Shores volunteers clean up the shores of the Pajaro River in August 2017. (Photo Credit: Save Our Shores)

Save Our Shores teamed up with the NOAA Marine Debris Program and removed large debris items from difficult-to-access areas of three major watersheds that feed into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2017 – July 2018

Who is involved?
Save Our Shores, with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, removed at least seven tons of debris from watersheds that feed into Central California’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

What is the project and why is it important?
The Pajaro River, Elkhorn Slough, and Salinas River all feed into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and are home to countless protected species and habitats. These three watersheds unfortunately also consistently rank among the top ten Sanctuary hotspots for trash and marine debris. These areas are affected by illegal dumping of household goods, furniture, appliances, and agricultural waste left behind by local migrant communities that lack sufficient waste disposal options.

Save Our Shores cleaned up these watersheds through at least 19 volunteer events that attacted 200 volunteers and removed at least seven tons of debris. Paddleboard and kayak-based waterway cleanups allowed volunteers to access back reaches and narrow inlets, and shore-based cleanups on protected lands targeted areas where illegal dumping is common. Save Our Shores also conducted outreach to local schools, sharing project results at community events, and engaged agricultural companies and their employees to develop solutions to this debris issue.

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Volunteers clean up debris on the shore of the Pajaro River.
Save Our Shores volunteers clean up the shores of the Pajaro River in August 2017. (Photo Credit: Save Our Shores)