Volunteers Clear 2,500 Pounds of Marine Debris in 24 Hours

The Takeaway: A super moon created ideal conditions for the cleanup, co-led by Florida Coastal Management Program staff.

When a rare “super blue blood moon” brought an incredibly low tide to Florida’s Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, volunteers sprang into action on foot and by boat, hauling away 140 derelict crab traps and thousands of pounds of marine debris in a single day. Staff members of the preserve, part of the Florida Coastal Management Program, took a leading role.

Many flounder, sheepshead, stone crab, and blue crab were found alive and removed from traps, a great outcome both ecologically and economically. In 2015, Florida’s stone crab industry garnered a commercial dockside value of more than $36 million, and its blue crab dockside value totaled $12 million.

Cleanup events like these can bring big economic rewards, as shown by a 2017 Chesapeake Bay study that found removing derelict crab pots in active fishing areas would lead to a 23.8 percent higher blue crab harvest over a six-year period, translating into an additional $33.5 million in industry profits. Removing marine debris also lessens navigation hazards for Florida’s commercial and recreational boaters, a large chunk of the state’s $17.9 million annual tourism and recreation sector.

The cleanup effort was supported by local businesses and the Nature Coast Biological Station at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science. (2018)

Partners: The Florida Coastal Management Program’s Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological Station