By: Peter Murphy, Alaska Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
Alaska is characterized by its rugged beauty, remote wilderness, and sheer size. These facts also play a significant role in the issue of marine debris in the state. With so much coastline, Alaska receives a huge amount of debris every year from both local sources and places across the Pacific Rim. “Catcher beaches,” where the shape and character of the coastline interacts with weather and ocean patterns to deposit huge amounts of debris, are often remote and can accumulate as much as 10-20 tons of debris per mile. Cleaning up debris in these areas can be difficult, but Alaskans are up to the task, using landing craft, helicopters, and good old-fashioned hard work and Alaskan ingenuity to remove debris in rugged and challenging conditions.
The real trick actually begins once the debris is off the beach.