April 21, 2023
The partners will receive $299,965 through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to lead collaborative marine debris efforts in coastal Washington
Marine debris is a persistent issue in Washington, as trash enters the ocean and threatens the health of ecosystems. Washington Sea Grant, together with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Washington CoastSavers have been awarded $299,965 from the National Sea Grant Marine Debris Community Action Coalitions grant to support annual beach cleanups and expand education and outreach efforts.
Washington CoastSavers works with an alliance of dedicated partners and thousands of volunteers to keep hundreds of miles of Pacific coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches clean. The funding will support three long-standing annual beach cleanup events attended by hundreds of volunteers at nearly 50 beaches with the support of partners including Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park, Washington State Parks, Lions Clubs International and Washington Surfrider. In addition, the funding will enable the partners to work with the Quinault Indian Nation to expand cleanup and outreach education efforts, and contribute large marine debris data to MyCoast, a Washington Department of Natural Resources database, to understand the scope of the issue, encourage stewardship and provide an informed assessment to be used in future removal efforts.
“CoastSavers and partners have been working on beach clean-ups in coastal Washington for years, but some areas have been hard to tackle,” says Michelle Lepori-Bui, marine water quality specialist and Washington Sea Grant project lead. “For example, some beaches in the Quinault Indian Nation and in Olympic National Park are really beautiful and culturally important areas — but when storms push trash onto those shores, their remote location makes it difficult for coordinated efforts to pick up that debris. This funding will help to accomplish some of those efforts.”
CoastSavers will also work with Career and Technical Education classes at Taholah School, within the Quinault Indian Nation, to establish a comprehensive outreach education citizen science program aimed at raising literacy and the awareness of marine debris impacts on coastal ecosystems as well as creating youth-led media with marine debris prevention messaging.
“I am very excited to represent Washington CoastSavers in implementing this valuable work,” says Megan Juran, Washington CoastSavers coordinator. “I look forward to continuing our efforts with important partners and community groups in conducting annual beach cleanups, expanding our work with the Quinault Indian Nation, and using mapping to better understand the scope of large-scale marine debris along the Olympic Peninsula.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly $3 billion for NOAA to take action over 5 years, organized into three main initiatives: climate data and services, fisheries and protected resources, and climate ready coasts. The climate ready coasts initiative includes $50 million to the National Sea Grant College Program toward marine debris and removal. To that end, the National Sea Grant College Program held the Marine Debris Community Action Coalition competition; the initiative described here was one of the selected projects.
Washington CoastSavers has been partnering with community groups, Native American nations, government agencies and committed individuals to coordinate marine debris removal through annual beach cleanup efforts since 2007. Washington Sea Grant and CoastSavers worked with other partners to develop the NOAA 2021 Washington Marine Debris Action Plan, and CoastSavers was identified as a partner in achieving 19 of the 172 actions in the prevention, removal, research, and coordination of marine debris removal efforts. The proposed projects work towards 14 of those actions including, but not limited to, implementing stewardship programs for beach cleanups, coordinating and conducting small- and large-scale cleanups, running a citizen science program and strengthening partnerships with tribal nations.
Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.