Project Aims To Help Clean Marine Debris from Gulf Of Maine
By Rebecca Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
April 9, 2008
A new project is encouraging residents and fishermen alike to remove trash
from more than just the beaches.
Marine Debris to Energy is a project that seeks a holistic approach to cleaning
up the Gulf of Maine, says Ken La Valley, NH Sea Grant commercial fisheries
specialist. Marine debris can include derelict commercial fishing gear such
as nets, trawl material or buoys and may end up floating farther offshore on
the ocean surface or littering the bottom.
The debris can create hazards for vessel navigation and interfere with a fisherman’s
operating gear, La Valley explains. It may also entangle protected marine species
or result in “ghost fishing,” where the gear continues to catch
the targeted species but without economic benefit. The debris on the shore,
underwater and on the ocean surface will be removed in this ongoing effort
by volunteers and fishermen.
Marine Debris to Energy will have an official kickoff at the Yankee Fishermen’s
Cooperative in Seabrook, April 18, 2008, at 10 a.m. This event will include
a ceremonial opening of the Dumpsters to collect marine debris. In addition,
speakers will discuss project goals and objectives and project information
will be distributed.
The Dumpster at the Fishermen’s Cooperative will be available to collect
commercial fishing gear waste. Smaller bins will be placed at recreational
fishing locations, marinas and tackle shops to collect monofilament line, which
can take hundreds of years to decompose. The project will also encourage the
continuation of beach clean-ups to remove garbage from those locations.
Debris sources and distribution patterns in the Gulf of Maine will also be
recorded using underwater sonar. Fishermen, beach cleanup crews and the general
public will be able to report the location, including latitude, longitude and
water depth where they found the debris. Once the information is entered into
a database, it will be available on GIS maps for online access at www.nhmarinedebris.org.
“If someone wants to learn about how ocean currents might impact the
location of marine debris, they can layer GIS maps for current and debris location
together to learn about it,” La Valley says.
In addition, once the debris is disposed of in collection bins along the coast,
it will be converted into energy via a waste-to-energy plant in the state,
La Valley adds.
The project is funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Grants program at UNH, and
cleanup will be conducted by a team of individuals from the UNH Environmental
Research Group, NH Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension and the Blue Ocean
Society for Marine Conservation. Additional support will be provided by commercial
and recreational fishermen, the cleanup volunteers and educators.
For more information on the program and the kickoff, please contact Ken La
Valley at 2-4343 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about beach
cleanups and the Blue Ocean Society Adopt-A-Beach Program, contact Jen Kennedy
at 603-431-0260 or email@example.com.