Volunteers remove more than two tons of debris and lost fishing gear in Channel Islands beach cleanups

September 2017

Over two tons of debris (approximately the weight of a car) has been successfully removed from the shores of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park over the past six months through a unique partnership between the sanctuary, local commercial lobster fishermen, and National Park Service concessionaires.

Volunteers, sanctuary staff, and lobster fishermen ready to dispose of debris in Santa Barbara Harbor after cleaning Chinese Harbor on Santa Cruz Island on April 7, 2017. Photo courtesy of NOAA

The island beach cleanups were funded by a grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program for lost fishing gear and lobster trap removal. Sanctuary staff, National Park concessionaires, volunteers, and local lobster fishermen Sam Shrout, Jim Colomy, Chris Voss, and Stanley Davis removed debris on April 7, April 10, August 11, and September 16 from Santa Cruz Island.

The fishermen created a pulley system between the shore and their vessels to safely transport large debris and trash bags. Hundreds of feet of poly rope and line, dozens of buoys, and fish floats, netting, plastic bait containers, and lobster traps were collected. Other debris included oil jugs, plastic straws and bottles, cups, caps, shoes and flippers, tennis balls, milk crates, fiberglass from grounded boats, buckets, and trash lids. The sanctuary’s Research Vessel (R/V) Shearwater, Island Packer’s vessel, and the lobster fishermen’s boats and crews transported the trash back to the mainland.

three men on a rocky beach pull in trash from the waves
Using a pulley system from the lobster fishermen's boats, debris was shuttled safely from shore through the swell to the vessels. Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA

Lobster fisherman Sam Shrout said, "I look forward to being involved in future beach cleanup activities." He added, "I've been hiking on these islands my entire life and would like to see a continued effort to keep the islands clean."

The August 11 cleanup was associated with national Get into Your Sanctuary Day. This collaborative event with Island Packers and Santa Barbara Adventure Company heightened awareness about responsible recreation and sustainable tourism opportunities in sanctuaries. Tourism partners supplied transportation to and from Santa Cruz Island, as well as kayaks and gear for the cleanup. The Channel Islands Harbor, U.S. Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Zoo, California State University Channel Islands, and Santa Barbara Channel Keeper provided volunteers for the cleanups. The September 16 cleanup took place as part of the International Coastal Cleanup.

For more information, contact Aubrie Fowler (aubrie.fowler@noaa.gov, 805-893-6425) or Shauna Bingham (shauna.bingham@noaa.gov, 805-893-6421).