Debris Removal Leaves Weeks Bay Cleaner and Safer

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve helped haul away hazardous abandoned boats and other marine debris while raising boat owners’ awareness.

Abandoned and poorly maintained boats can leak pollutants and crush the life out of delicate marsh grasses. Alabama volunteers removed large pieces of marine debris and five derelict vessels from Weeks Bay. Now a “Derelict Is Dangerous” campaign is raising boaters’ awareness of the problem. This progress was made possible by the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Weeks Bay Foundation, and grants from NOAA and the state.

Keeping Weeks Bay’s beaches and waterways attractive and free of debris is a compelling economic issue for the surrounding Baldwin County. In 2016, the county’s ocean economy reported more than $522 million in gross domestic product and paid out more than $253 million in wages, according to a NOAA report.

Volunteers on a yearly kayak-based survey set the stage by marking vessels and marine debris that needed to be hauled away. The outreach campaign reaches Gulf Coast boat owners with information on maritime laws as well as ways to prepare for storms and prevent and report marine debris.

Supporters included a NOAA grant through the Community-Based Marine Debris Removal program and outreach funding from the Alabama State Lands Division. (2019)

More Information: When Vessels Become Marine Debris

Partners: Alabama Department of Conservation and National Resources, NOAA National Marine Debris Program, Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Weeks Bay Foundation