No Signs of Stopping in the Northeast

Posted Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:00

The Northeast is home to rocky coastlines, sandflats, and bays, migratory and residential protected species, and passionate fishing communities who dedicate their lives to their work in the marine environment. Our partners are working hard to keep the coast clean to conserve all that we love about New England, and have big plans for the new year! From boat recycling to sustainable restaurants and at-sea cleanups, we are excited by the progress that’s already been made by our newest partners to take on marine debris in the Northeast.

A pile of vessel materials collected for processing.
Vessel materials collected for processing (Photo: Rhode Island Marine Trades Association Foundation).

Partners at the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association Foundation are expanding a pilot project to coordinate stakeholders in Washington, New England, and other interested locations to collect end-of-life vessels and prepare their materials for beneficial reuse. These efforts will promote the discussion of a national boat recycling program, allowing for efficient replication of the model originally established in Rhode Island. This process will enhance the removal of derelict, abandoned, or storm-wrecked boats that pose as immediate threats to the marine environment.

Salem Sound Coastwatch, in partnership with Girls Inc. and Salem Public Schools, is developing projects with high school interns in Salem and Lynn, Massachusetts. These projects include a CoastSmart Restaurant Campaign that works with local restaurants to provide more sustainable options in takeout packaging, educational videos that promote restaurant composting, a single-use plastic reduction ad campaign, and an inventory of existing cigarette butt collection efforts to measure effectiveness.

Derelict fishing gear piled on deck of vessel.
A derelict fishing gear cleanup in the Gulf of Maine
(Photo: Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative).

Ocean Conservancy's Global Ghost Gear Initiative, along with partners at the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, will remove derelict fishing gear and large debris from identified hotspots in three locations in Maine state waters: the Portland area of Casco Bay, the Harpswell/Orrs Island area, and the Southwest Harbor/Cranberry Islands area. This project will also build capacity amongst fishers and other stakeholders to implement best practices for managing gear and preventing and reporting gear loss.

Though we are facing new challenges, New Englanders are resilient. Partners are working hard to keep cleaning up, educating students, reaching new audiences, and seeking solutions to keep our ocean and waterways clean. Stay tuned this week on the NOAA Marine Debris Program blog to learn more about projects in the Northeast!