Kodiak Road System Marine Debris Removal Project
ITN Mission Area: Develop and promote stewardship, restoration and maintenance projects for coastlines.
Project Dates: 2017-2018
Summary: An estimated 200 community volunteers & students will work alongside ITN staff to remove marine debris from the shorelines accessible from the Kodiak road system. The project will remove approximately 8-12 tons (16,000-24,000 lbs.) of marine debris from shoreline segments along 80-miles of road-accessible coastline on Kodiak Island (see map, below). Community members, special interest groups and students from local schools will provide most of the labor for the marine debris collection, removal, and debris characterization & monitoring. A concurrent campaign for marine debris awareness will both educate the public about the impacts of marine debris and serve as a call to action.
Funding Partners: National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration
In-kind Partners: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
The Kodiak Island road system provides access to shorelines scattered along approximately 80 miles of the coast on the northeastern part of Kodiak Island. Coastal streams, salt marshes, sandy and rocky beaches of all descriptions, cliffs, and offshore islands are all relatively easily accessible from the road. From White Sands Beach in the north to Pashagshak Bay in the south, we have identified 81 discrete locations for conducting marine debris cleanups. In most cases, cleanup crews can drive to very near the site of the cleanup and simply walk in to the cleanup site. There are scattered homes and businesses along the road system, but the shorelines
are in an undeveloped, natural state.
The concentration of removal efforts in a roadside environment has a two-fold benefit. 1) Maximizes the health and recreational benefits to residents and visitors who use these areas by minimizing their exposure to marine debris, and 2) provides the most visible change in the coastline over time, which will illustrate the breadth and depth of the marine debris problem to
the greatest number of people. We anticipate project will remove approximately 8-12 tons of marine debris over the two-year life of the project.
There is also a monitoring component to this project. By using standardized protocols to monitor seven of the 81 of the sites we will get an accurate evaluation of the re-accumulation rate of marine debris across the project area, and be able to compare these to other locations around the U.S.
Marine Debris on the Kodiak Road System
Marine Debris is a widespread phenomenon that has impacted miles of coastline in the Gulf of Alaska. The Kodiak Marine Debris Removal targets a diffuse but substantial deposit of marine debris in the northeast (or inhabited) portion of Kodiak Island. Marine debris on Kodiak Island, including derelict fishing gear and plastic trash, is not only an eyesore on our coastlines, but a threat to our marine wildlife, fishing navigation, economy and human health. Northeastern Kodiak Island provides important wildlife habitat in the form of a sanctuary for Steller sea lions, harbor seals and migrating birds, including several endangered & threatened species.
The accumulated marine debris and plastic pollution threatens wildlife primarily through ingestion and entanglement. Tiny plastic particles can also accumulate toxic chemicals reducing the quality of Alaska seafood products harvested from the largest commercial fishing fleet in nearby Kodiak city. The local community is largely dependent on the harvest of fish for their food, and has a vested interest in the sustainable management and stewardship our coastlines and marine environment. In the coastal communities of the Kodiak Archipelago including unincorporated settlements of Chiniak, Pasagshak and Womens Bay, there is an urgent need to address marine debris by implementing large scale on-the-ground cleanup efforts, promoting pollution prevention practices, and increased awareness. The Kodiak Marine Debris Removal Program is a consolidated effort to significantly improve important marine habitat and virtually eliminate incidental contact with marine debris by Kodiak residents over a two-year period.