Addressing Marine Debris in Alaska

Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:00

Peter Murphy.Meet Peter Murphy, the Alaska Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP). Peter came to NOAA from the University of Washington, where he earned his degree in Information Systems and International Studies. Peter first joined the MDP in 2007 as part of the Gulf of Mexico Marine Debris Project, a response to the impact of marine debris generated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In 2009, Peter started as the MDP’s first Alaska Regional Coordinator. Since taking on this role, Peter has managed and participated in multiple field projects across the State of Alaska, learning first-hand the specific challenges and opportunities of addressing marine debris in the challenging and diverse environments of Alaska and beyond. Reach out to Peter at!

Alaska is a beautiful and unique place. Unfortunately, like much of the country, this area is plagued by marine debris. Addressing this issue can be challenging considering Alaska has an extensive and rugged coastline, much of which is remote and difficult to access. Thankfully, there are many people out there who are working hard to address the marine debris problem in this region. Check out some of the projects funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program that are working to prevent and remove debris in Alaska:

On the Kenai Peninsula, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is working to increase awareness of and prevent marine debris. Focusing on marine debris education and involving students in zero waste campaigns, this group is empowering schools and students to address marine debris by measuring the waste produced at their school and identifying how to improve. Students can also participate in cleanups at remote sites and small communities. For more on this project, check out the project profile.

Students around a table sorting waste.
Students sort and count waste generated in their school as part of the project led by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. (Photo Credit: Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies)

In the Bering Sea communities of St. Paul Island, Port Heiden, and Savoonga, the Sitka Sound Science Center is leading a project to collect, remove, and dispose of shoreline debris. These three remote communities, which all have experience in marine debris cleanup, are providing the cleanup crews, local knowledge of “hotspots,” and best techniques for these removal efforts. For more on this project, check out the project profile.

A person hauling collected debris using an ATV.
The Sitka Sound Science Center is leading a project to clean up shorelines in three remote Bering Sea communities. Here, a previous cleanup near Savoonga is pictured. (Photo Credit: Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation)

Focusing on derelict Dungeness crab pots in the Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska, the Douglas Indian Association is working with a diverse group of local agencies and stakeholders to survey and remove derelict pots. They’re utilizing methods such as sonar surveys to locate and quantify derelict pots, as well as grappling devices to remove them, in an important crab harvest area. For more on this project, check out the project profile.

A view of Sandy Beach.
The Douglas Indian Association is working to survey and remove derelict crab pots in the Sandy Beach area of Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska. (Photo Credit: Douglas Indian Association)

These are just a few examples of the efforts to address marine debris in Alaska. Keep your eye on our blog this week for more, and check out our website for more interesting marine debris projects in Alaska and throughout the country!

Addressing Marine Debris in Alaska

Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:00

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