Removing Hurricane Michael Debris in Northwest Florida

Marine debris piled high along a shore.

University of Florida and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will remove debris from vessels and structures generated by Hurricane Michael in St. Andrew, St. Joseph, and Apalachicola Bays.

Type of Project: Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund

Region: Florida and the Caribbean

Project Dates: Nov 2020 - Sept 2023

Who is involved?
With support from the Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund, a partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the University of Florida and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will remove vessel and structural debris remaining from Hurricane Michael in St. Andrew, St. Joseph, and Apalachicola Bays. The project will also create a volunteer Vessel Turn-in Program (VTIP) to help legal vessel owners properly dispose of their impacted vessels.

What is the project and why is it important?
Hurricane Michael made landfall between Tyndall Air Force Base and Mexico Beach as a devastating category 5 hurricane. St. Andrew, St. Joseph, and Apalachicola Bays were severely impacted by the storm, causing damage to vessels and generating debris from damaged buildings and other structures. 

The University of Florida is partnering with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove debris remaining after initial clean-up by emergency response agencies. Side scan sonar will be used to locate sunken vessels for removal. The project will also create a volunteer Vessel Turn-in Program (VTIP), allowing legal vessel owners to apply for removal funding. The project plans to remove up to 70 vessels and 600 additional pieces of large debris.