Reducing the Impact of Large Marine Debris on the National Marine Sanctuary System

A group of people hike towards the ocean.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is leading a multi-site project to remove large marine debris and foster partnerships within the National Marine Sanctuary System that will benefit coastal and marine habitats and communities throughout the nation.

Type of Project: Removal

Region: California, Pacific Northwest, Gulf of Mexico

Project Dates: July 2023 - June 2026

Who is involved?
With the support of the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is working with the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, as well as federal and state managers, tribal governments, local stakeholders, businesses, and academic partners, to identify and remove large marine debris across the National Marine Sanctuary System.

What is the project and why is it important?
The National Marine Sanctuary System is part of our collective riches as a nation. Within their protected waters, giant humpback whales breed and raise their young, and coral reefs flourish. Sanctuary habitats include beautiful rocky reefs, lush kelp forests, whale migration corridors, spectacular deep-sea canyons, and underwater archaeological sites. However, national marine sanctuaries are also impacted by marine debris issues that present entanglement, navigation, ingestion, and other threats. Removing large marine debris, including abandoned and derelict vessels and derelict fishing gear, will restore, protect, conserve, and enhance marine habitats and ecosystems.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is working with partners around the country to remove large marine debris from National Marine Sanctuaries. In Washington State, they are removing abandoned vessels and other large derelict structures from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Neah Bay in partnership with the Makah Tribe and Quileute Tribe. This project is also removing three large pieces of equipment in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico and is partnering with California State Parks to remove abandoned and derelict vessels, anchor chains and buoys, and a plane from within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. This effort is also removing at least 18,000 pounds of marine debris, mostly derelict fishing gear, from remote shorelines of the Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary in Southern California. Removing these targeted debris items will restore and protect sensitive habitats, eliminate navigational hazards, and support the protection of species and resources across our nation’s protected marine sanctuaries.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.