Abandoned and derelict vessel removal project begins

Published 7:15 pm Saturday, September 18, 2021

The North Carolina Coastal Federation will be removing abandoned and derelict vessels in the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound with a grant award from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. The project begins this month and continue into the fall, until the contractor Moran Environmental Recovery has completed removing the targeted vessels. The federation will coordinate the project in partnership with Dare County and the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.

The major goal of this NOAA Marine Debris Program supported 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 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 N.C. Coastal Reserve.

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,” says the couple.

Additional abandoned and derelict vessels have been identified throughout Dare County and some pose a threat to safe navigation. The removal of these vessels 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.

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.

To learn about the progress of this work and the federation’s efforts to create a coast that is free of marine debris, visit: nccoast.org/marinedebris.  Contact Michael Flynn with any questions at michaelf@nccoast.org or 252-473-1607.   

– Submitted by North Carolina Coastal Federation

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