Marine debris prevention grants go to St. Paul, North Slope Borough

$2.7 M overall awarded for prevention, cleanup projects

Projects on St. Paul Island and within the North Slope Borough are among 23 recipients of prevention grants awarded through the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

NOAA officials said the North Slope Borough was awarded $92,183 to educate students and residents about debris in the marine and coastal environment, with a focus on how to prevent single-use plastics in local communities. Residents will learn about marine debris being found in stomachs of bowhead whales, polar bears and other marine organisms. Borough officials will also host beach cleanup events in communities across the North Slope.

The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island received $74,983 to change behaviors around use and disposal of packing bands to prevent marine debris that poses an entanglement threat to marine wildlife, particularly northern fur seals. There will be a localized campaign to cut plastic packing band loops prior to disposal, plus the creation of messages to encourage industry to invest in environmentally friendly materials and cut their loops.

The program awarded $2.7 million overall for the 23 prevention and cleanup projects.

Other west coast prevention grants included $98,475 to Zero Waste Washington to a youth-led education project to reduce barriers to plastic pollution reduction and waste prevention in the Duwamish River area of Washington state and $60,000 to One Cool Earth in California to work with public schools to reach youth and affect their waste-disposal behaviors.

Zero Waste Oahu in Hawaii received $146,890 to reduce marine debris from single-use plastic take-out containers by providing a subscription service for reusable containers.

NOAA also awarded 10 grants for marine debris removal, including $205,139 to the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project LLC, to engage volunteers in a high-visibility, large-scale marine debris cleanup at Katmai National Park. The project will explore innovative recycling and recovery processes to determine the best recycling methods and likely recycling markets for collected ocean plastics.

Also among the 10 marine debris removal projects are $112,499 to California State University to remove debris from seven remote beaches in the Northern Channel Islands, $52,000 to the Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance to remove debris from nearshore waters of Oahu with help from snorkel and scuba divers, and $50,000 for the Oregon State Marine Board to remove abandoned and derelict vessels from marinas while they are still security moored and afloat.

More about these programs is at marinedebris.noaa.gov.