New Research Reserve Findings Back Up Marine Debris Campaign
The Takeaway: New findings and a campaign by the Mission-Aransas Research Reserve are tackling Texas' marine debris problem.
Trash causes problems for communities all along the Gulf Coast, and nowhere is it more evident than in Texas, according to a 2018 study by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. These researchers discovered that ten times more trash washes up on the Texas coast than on any other Gulf state coast. This finding, and others, are giving added momentum to a City of Port Aransas marine debris campaign led by the research reserve.
The researchers kept track of marine debris in the Gulf states between February 2015 and August 2017. Spring and summer are the heaviest debris months, say researchers, and an average of 93 percent of the trash washing up is plastic. Researchers also are able to predict, with a high degree of probability, where marine debris will wash up, based on areas of freshwater influx.
These insights are influencing the campaign, which heightens awareness about leaving a clean ocean and coast via billboards, social media, and more. An educational video on the importance of recycling fishing line was viewed more than 40,000 times.
Monofilament fishing line has a devastating impact on marine life when it becomes litter. Sea turtles and birds can sicken and die when becoming entangled in this product, which takes about 600 years to break down. Unsightly marine debris risks a very profitable coastal economic sector. In 2015, Texas’ tourism and recreation ocean economy employed more than 48,000 people and tallied 1.9 billion in gross domestic product, according to NOAA’s Economics: National Ocean Watch.
The $72,000 campaign was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Additional partners include the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Coastal Conservation Association-Texas, Padre Island National Seashore, Surfrider Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Sea Grant. (Original story 2018/ Update 2019)
More Information: Marine Debris Campaign
Partners: City of Port Aransas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Coastal Conservation Association-Texas, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mission-Aransas Research Reserve, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Padre Island National Seashore, Surfrider Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Sea Grant