ANNAPOLIS, MD, April 4, 2016 – Boaters know the dangers that marine debris can pose, both to their own vessel and the environment. Long known for its successful national fishing line recycling program, the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water will be tackling the challenging problem of waterborne junk in three projects this spring that will help remove large debris, a sunken fishing boat, and will explore the issue of boats running afoul of commercial fishing gear.
A $51,000 grant to remove large debris comes from the NOAA Marine Debris Program to partner with the local on water towing and assistance fleets of TowBoatUS South Shore, OH, and TowBoatUS Ocean City, MD, as well as local monitoring agencies – all whom will be matching funds through in-kind services. With these service donations as well as a BoatUS Foundation contribution, the donated in-kind services will surpass $52,000, doubling the original NOAA grant amount.
Offshore of Reno Beach, OH, in Western Lake Erie, TowBoatUS South Shore will remove a sunken 35-foot steel commercial fishing boat with a net attached. The wreck is located near sensitive habitat, a state park, and two National Wildlife Refuges.
In the Atlantic, three to seven miles offshore of Ocean City, MD, TowBoatUS Ocean City will remove two commercial fishing nets that are entangled on an artificial reef.
In both locations the nets are still actively fishing and trapping aquatic life.
“Our TowBoatUS towing captains identified these problem areas and brought them to our attention,” said BoatUS Foundation Vice President Susan Shingledecker. “They are experts in salvage and are eager to lend their expertise.” Shingledecker added that a local monitoring agency will study the environmental impacts of the removal.
With a $103,000 grant from the Fishing for Energy program, the BoatUS Foundation will study and develop educational tools to reduce interactions between recreational boats and fixed commercial fishing gear. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Fishing for Energy grant aims to prevent and reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear in the marine environment.
Since 2008, Fishing for Energy has been a public-private partnership between NOAA Marine Debris Program, energy-from-waste facility operator Covanta, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and metals recycler Schnitzer Steel Industries. This grant is being matched by a $140,000 donation of services by the BoatUS Foundation.
Anyone who spends a lot of time boating in areas with a lot of crab or lobster trap floats knows it can be a challenge navigating without accidentally catching a pot line on your propeller,” said Shingledecker. “We’ll be conducting focus groups in multiple regions to learn more about this interaction and look for ways to message about preventing entanglements and what to do if you catch a pot when boating. Most boaters don’t realize that cut pots sink to the bottom and continue actively fishing for up to ten years. This is seafood that never makes it to your dinner plate or supports a fisherman’s income. We want to learn more about this challenge and see how we can make a difference.