More than a dozen commercial and recreational fishers worked together over the past year to remove 1 million pounds of marine debris created by past hurricanes from the central and southeast coasts.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation, which is heading up the effort in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, received nearly $2 million in funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program for the removal of marine debris and abandoned and derelict vessels, left behind by Hurricane Florence.
The milestone was reached last week, according to the federation.
The 30 fishers worked in small crews to clean up public trust waters, lands and dredge spoil islands in and around the Rachel Carson Reserve, Fort Macon State Park, Hammocks Beach State Park, Permuda Island and Masonboro Island reserves, and Carteret, Onslow, New Hanover and Brunswick counties.
The crews would take small skiffs and collect the debris by hand. Each crew has picked up an average of 2,000 pounds, about a ton, of debris each day.
Marine debris impacts sensitive coastal habitats, wildlife, and water quality. The debris contains harmful chemicals that may leach into the ecosystem effecting animals, including fish and shellfish consumed by humans. Large deposits of debris pose hazards to navigation, fishers, and marsh vegetation, according to the federation.