Taking On Storm Debris in coastal North Carolina
North Carolina Coastal Federation is removing storm-related debris, lost fishing gear, and vessels throughout coastal North Carolina and is working to prevent marine debris that future storms.
Type of Project: Removal
Project Dates: August 2023 - July 2027
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Inflation Reduction Act funding, the North Carolina Coastal Federation is partnering with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, and local commercial fishers to assess, remove, and dispose of storm-related debris, lost fishing gear, and vessels throughout coastal North Carolina.
What is the project and why is it important?
Storms routinely strike the North Carolina coast creating large amounts of debris at once. Since 1996, powerful hurricanes have caused hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage including to docks, seawalls, boathouses, and waterfront homes and businesses. In addition, hundreds of abandoned and derelict boats and thousands of pieces of lost fishing gear have washed into coastal waterways and marshes. This debris ends up scattered throughout the state’s 2.1-million-acre estuarine system. Typically, when storm debris ends up outside of developed areas and can remain for decades in the environment. This debris creates hazards to people, navigation, as well as fish and wildlife.
After Hurricane Florence in 2018, the North Carolina Coastal Federation began addressing the growing volume of large-scale disaster debris alongside federal and state agencies. The Federation worked with agency partners to identify and remove high concentrations of storm-related debris. Through their efforts, they identified other areas of concern, including abandoned and derelict vessels.
Building off of that work, the North Carolina Coastal Federation will remove close to 50 vessels along with more than 2 million pounds of construction materials, dock debris, and derelict fishing gear throughout coastal North Carolina, representing the largest organized effort to address this large debris on public lands and waters in North Carolina’s history. The Federation is also working to prevent the creation of storm debris in the future by encouraging more resilient repair and building techniques of waterfront structures. This important work will restore habitat, benefit critical tourism and fishing trades, improve vessel navigation, and help address storm debris.