Following a competitive review process, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are pleased to announce the six recipients of the 2019 Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund. The funds will go to coastal states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and Typhoon Yutu, totaling approximately $8.2 million in federal funds. Federal funding is supplemented by grantee matching contributions, bringing the total investment of these marine debris projects to approximately $8.6 million.
The 2018 hurricane and typhoon seasons inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources across North Carolina, Florida, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and Typhoon Yutu left a swath of destruction and large amounts of debris in the coastal zones of the affected states and territory. This debris poses hazards to navigation, commercial fishing grounds, and sensitive ecosystems.
The supported projects will assess, remove, and dispose of marine debris that was caused by or moved by the storms and prevent further harm to habitats and fish and wildlife populations. The projects will assess and remove debris impacting coral reefs, as well as debris that is near National Wildlife Refuges, state parks and reserves, and aquatic preserves, among other sensitive habitats. The funded projects are:
Pacific Coastal Research & Planning (CNMI, $1,500,000) will remove and properly dispose of the derelict fishing vessel Lady Carolina, a vessel broken up by Typhoon Yutu, from the coral reef in the Saipan Lagoon to prevent further damage to the reef and allow it to recover.
Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (CNMI, $2,467,302) will assess, remove, and dispose of marine debris from Typhoon Yutu in Tinian Harbor, preventing further damage to coral reef and other sensitive coastal habitats.
The City of Mexico Beach (FL, $100,000) will assess the current levels of marine debris from Hurricane Michael remaining along 16,000 linear feet of the City’s shoreline, including City of Mexico Beach and nearshore area, and develop a plan for removal and disposal.
Dog Island Conservation District (FL, $517,000) will remove debris from Hurricane Michael that is impacting coastal habitat on Dog Island, restoring two miles of beach and dunes that were severely impacted by damage and debris from this storm.
The University of Florida (FL, $3,000,000) will remove and dispose of hurricane-caused vessel and structural debris negatively impacting coastal vegetation and adjacent uplands in the St. Andrew, St. Joseph, and Apalachicola Bay communities.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation, Inc. (NC, $645,557) will remove 40-44 abandoned and derelict vessels from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina coastal waterways. The vessels were prioritized by state and federal agencies based on their current impact to wildlife and habitats.