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North Carolina Coastal Federation receives marine debris removal grant from NOAA

The North Carolina Coastal Federation will be removing large-scale marine debris in the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound with a grant award from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. The federation will coordinate the project in partnership with Dare County and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.

A press release from NCCF states that the major goal of the project is to remove at least 20 abandoned and derelict vessels that currently harm important habitat such as oyster reef, submerged aquatic vegetation, shallow subtidal and coastal wetlands in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary. Division of Coastal Management staff have identified numerous abandoned and derelict vessels and other large-scale marine debris that negatively impact different habitats within Currituck Banks and Kitty Hawk Woods component of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.

“The Division is looking forward to working with the Coastal Federation and project partners to remove vessels and debris to improve habitat quality at Reserve sites,” says Rebecca Ellin, Coastal Reserve program manager for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. “Through collaborative efforts such as these, we can reduce marine debris in coastal N.C. to protect habitats and enhance the safety and enjoyment of our coastal environment.”

Local Colington Island residents Rick and Mary Ann Jones enjoy paddling the waters around Baum Point Island. “During these outings, we continued to find small channels into the marsh, with several derelict boats partially sunk or grounded in the marsh. While not considered navigable channels, removal of the derelict boats from these estuaries will ease the passage of our canoes and kayaks, allow the marsh to return to its natural state as habitat for all kinds of critters, and remove a potential hazard from storm surge displacement of derelict boats into navigable channels and/or resulting in additional damage to local properties,” stated the couple.

Additional abandoned and derelict vessels have been identified throughout Dare County and some pose a threat to safe navigation. The removal of medium- and large-scale marine debris is also anticipated to restore sections of submerged aquatic vegetation that provides essential fish habitat. This project seeks to provide an economical way to remove these vessels so they do not add to the debris problems nor continue to pose navigational hazards in the future.

“Dare County is excited to work with the Coastal Federation on this project. With the number of storms that have affected Dare County, the amount of abandoned vessels that harass our waters has increased exponentially. We are thankful to have an organization like the Coastal Federation consistently working to ensure the waters of the county are clean and safe for everyone,” says Brent Johnson, Dare County project manager.

Another goal of this grant-funded project is to create a replicable case study on how to clean up abandoned and derelict vessels and other medium- and large-scale marine debris by combining local, state and federal resources and make it available to a broad range of stakeholders. All of this work will take place in conjunction with a coordinated strategy with additional partners across the state through the North Carolina Marine Debris Action Plan. The action plan provides a framework for strategically reducing the amount and impact of marine debris along North Carolina’s coast for the next five years.

The project is slated to begin this fall and will continue over the next 12-24 months. The federation will solicit a request for proposals from marine contractors to perform debris removal this fall and will also announce future opportunities to participate in volunteer-based community cleanups.

To learn about the progress of NCCF’s work, visit: nccoast.org/marinedebris. Contact Michael Flynn with questions at michaelf@nccoast.org or 252-473-1607.

READ MORE IN OUR ON THE WATER SECTION HERE.

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