Marine safety detachment pitches in to sort marine debris in Kodiak, Alaska

MSD Kodiak sorts marine debris

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak, Alaska, volunteer with Island Trails Network to sort marine debris at the National Marine Fisheries facility in Gibson Cove on Kodiak Island, Friday Oct. 12, 2012. Photo courtesy Tom Pogson.

The crew of Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak volunteered their time with Island Trails Network personnel in Kodiak, Alaska, Oct. 12 to sort marine debris collected throughout the summer from local beaches.

“It was fantastic to have the help of the MSD,” said Tom Pogson, director of education, outreach and marine programs at Island Trails Network. “The crew sorted about five percent of the debris we had stored in an hour before they were called away for Coast Guard operations.”

The crew braved snow and freezing temperatures to sort approximately 800 pounds of line, plastics and trash collected by Island Trails Network crews in Halibut Bay on the west of Kodiak Island along Shelikof Strait. This area is part of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Debris was also collected by local setnetters near 18 sites around Kodiak Island.

“The Coast Guard is committed to working very closely with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and our other federal, state, local and tribal partners to address marine debris,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Guy Hughey, a marine science technician with MSD Kodiak. “This was just one small way the Coast Guard was able to contribute to a local effort that is part of a much larger attempt to deal with the issue.”

The marine debris stored at the National Marine Fisheries facility in Gibson Cove, near Kodiak City, totaled more than 9,000 pounds of debris this year. Once sorted, it was packed into a shipping container and sent to Skagit Steel in Washington State for recycling.

Kodiak Island marine debris 2012

Super sacks containing more than 9,000 pounds of marine debris sit at the National Marine Fisheries facility at Gibson Cove on Kodiak Island, Alaska, after being sorted into plastics, line, metals and garbage Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Photo courtesy Tom Pogson.

The removal of debris from local beaches is done by hand because mechanized equipment is not allowed in the refuge. The debris threatens local wildlife ranging from bears to Steller sea lions and salmon streams.

The Coast Guard, Island Trails Network and other agencies around Alaska have partnered with the NOAA to tackle the issue marine debris. NOAA is the lead agency directed to conduct research, monitoring, prevention, and reduction activities in regards to marine debris. Mariners can assist NOAA by reporting any marine debris they see to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

Additional information about marine debris and marine debris efforts can be found at: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov and http://islandtrails.org/action/marinedebrisremoval.php.

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