Marine Debris Removal from Maine Seabird-Nesting Islands and Surrounding Waters
Pile of marine debris on a shore.
Marine debris collected by National Audubon Society at Eastern Egg Rock Island, ME. (Photo Credit: Steve Kress)

The National Audubon Society is working on eight Maine islands to remove marine debris and study the accumulation of debris on the islands. In partnership with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and local lobster fishermen, they will also aim to reduce the rate of accumulation through at-sea removal of derelict fishing gear.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Northeast

Project Dates: September 2018 - December 2020

Who is involved?

With the support of a Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Seabird Restoration Program of the National Audubon Society is working on several Maine islands to remove marine debris and study the accumulation of debris on the islands. In partnership with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and local lobster fishermen, they will also aim to reduce the rate of accumulation through at-sea removal of derelict fishing gear. This project will take place on Stratton Island, Bluff Island, Jenny Island, Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge, Outer Green Island, Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, Matinicus Rock, and Eastern Egg Rock Island.

What is the project and why is it important?

Maine islands support many species of breeding seabirds, including several species listed as endangered, threatened, and of special concern. The islands accumulate marine debris throughout the year, but especially during seasonal storms and high tides when debris, including derelict lobster traps, washes ashore. This derelict gear poses threats to the breeding birds who use the islands for nesting. Planning cleanup efforts on islands is logistically challenging as it requires calm seas, assistance from fishermen, island organizations, and volunteers and transportation of the debris to the mainland. As such, island habitats sometimes have larger accumulations of marine debris than coastal beaches. As part of this project, Audubon will organize community outreach events to educate coastal residents, including students, about marine debris and encourage them to take steps to alleviate the problem.