Many things look different in our world right now: most people are working from home, our favorite restaurants and beaches are closed, and students finished off the school year online. So, where does that leave Turtle Trash Collectors, a University of North Carolina Wilmington MarineQuest outreach program funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program?
We are excited to share that the United States Government formally joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Last month, the United States Department of State signed a statement of support for the GGGI pledging continued United States Government commitment to address abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear, also known as “ghost gear,” in the global ocean.
As a result of COVID-19, personal protective equipment (PPE) has become an important part of individual and community responses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes. Single-use PPE, like gloves, wipes, and disposable masks, has also been a vital part of daily life. However, improperly disposing of trash, including PPE, can create marine debris and harm the environment.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce our FY 2021 Marine Debris Removal notice of funding opportunity. Projects awarded through the removal grant competition will create long-term, quantifiable ecological habitat improvements for NOAA trust resources, with priority consideration for efforts targeting derelict fishing gear, abandoned and derelict vessels, and other medium- and large-scale debris.
Today, a NOAA Marine Debris Program partner, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, announced 14 grants totaling $121,700 to prevent the accumulation of derelict fishing gear, or fishing gear that is lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment, in port communities in U.S. coastal waters.
Marine debris can be dangerous for wildlife, damage sensitive habitats, and create safety and navigation hazards. But did you know that marine debris can also hurt the economies of coastal communities and decrease commercial fishing revenue? Marine debris can keep tourists away from beaches, compete with active fishing gear and reduce commercial catches, and cost small businesses money.
Imagine that you are watching a small paper boat float on a lake and suddenly a breeze pushes the boat all the way across to the other side. You can no longer see it and the boat is too far away to pick up and you consider it lost. Now imagine that the paper boat is a large commercial fishing net, and instead of a lake, it’s traveling on currents in the ocean. It too has moved away from its original location, moved out into the open ocean, and is considered lost or derelict. Marine debris of all sizes can move around the ocean, being pushed around by wind and currents, and traveling to far off locations, such as the Hawaiian Islands.