Clean-up efforts continue down the coast in the southeast region targeting the removal of Hurricane Florence related debris. The National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program awarded the federation $250,000 for 2019-2020 cleanup efforts in the southeast region.

In 2019, the North Carolina General Assembly allocated $400,000 to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries to partner with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to clean up marine debris along coastal waters. The federation removed 200.3 tons of marine debris from over 43 miles of coastline impacted by Hurricane Florence. Debris was removed from the estuaries of Carteret, Onslow and Pender counties, including from state park property and other publicly owned shorelines and islands.

Central Region

In 2019, The Federation’s central region contracted cleanup efforts to remove debris from Hurricane Florence in Carteret and Onslow counties. The project focused on consumer debris, and heavy wooden debris from damaged docks and piers that had washed up after Florence. From February to June, a crew of fishermen and women and locals worked tirelessly to clean up 21 miles of marsh and dredge spoil islands along the intracoastal waterway near Swansboro from marker 34-55. A total of 125.2 tons of consumer and wooden debris from Hurricane Florence was picked up, along with three abandoned and derelict vessels. In order to maintain habitat quality and not cause disturbance to the surrounding marsh vegetation, the crew members hauled out wood by hand to piles that the contractor could reach with heavy equipment from the waterway.

The central region is currently working on grant funding for removing abandoned and derelict vessels along the intracoastal waterway. This project will begin in early 2020.


Southeast Region

The National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program is currently funding cleanup efforts in the Southeast region. This funding supports the extension of the ongoing debris removal to include Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties. This will provide a case study on large-scale marine debris removal for distribution by NOAA for other regions. These cleanup efforts will support the development of recommendations for state-wide standards and model local ordinances for more storm resilient marine construction. They will also increase education and outreach on marine debris in the estuarine environment. A four-person crew of fishers from Sneads Ferry began collecting debris in late November 2019, and as of the end of February 2020, 62 tons of debris have been collected. The crew is averaging about 1 ton of debris per day. They have worked from Surf City Bridge to the end of Topsail Beach, Topsail Island. This includes about 9 square miles of water, marsh, tidal creeks and dredge spoil islands. Clean up efforts will continue down south to Masonboro Sound and a portion of the lower Cape Fear River estuary.

Click here to read more about the project from the crew’s perspective.

Additionally, under the General Assembly funding in 2019, a 4-person crew worked from April to August. The crew covered 22 miles of shoreline including islands, embayments and creeks from the lower New River to Topsail Sound and removed a total of 75 tons of debris. This included the preliminary clean-up of the shoreline of the Permuda Island Coastal Reserve. The majority of the clean-up occurred in Onslow County, with some occurring in Pender County. Approximately 3-5 tons of this debris was removed from within the Permuda Island Coastal Reserve. The crew collected all the debris by hand, and used a 24’ Carolina Skiff to haul the debris to stockpile and collection sites.

Photos by Logan Prochaska