ALASKA MARINE DEBRIS DATABASE
UNVEILED BY MCAF
Google Earth-based platform
shows cleanups, surveys, reports
February 09, 2009
Information on marine debris cleanup efforts in Alaska - past
and present - has been compiled by the MCA Foundation into a
Google Earth based database that is now accessible over the internet.
The database identifies areas cleaned and surveyed with links
to photos with reports of the volume removed and other statistics.
"Since MCAF joined the fight against marine debris in 2003,
we've removed over 1 million pounds of marine debris from Alaska's
shoreline, but much more work remains to be done," said
MCAF executive director David Benton. "This database will
help future planning by showing locations where debris accumulations
have been identified through surveys, and where cleanups have
taken place. It also provides historical data on efforts to
identify and remove accumulations of marine debris."
Marine debris is any persistent, solid, manufactured material
such as plastics that is directly or indirectly, intentionally
or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine
environment. In Alaska, much of the debris is derelict fishing
gear such as nets, crab line and buoys. While some of it is
sought by beachcombers, the volume of plastic debris that washes
up along Alaska's shoreline degrades habitat and presents a threat
of entanglement and ingestion that can be fatal to fish, marine
mammals and seabirds.
Designed by MCAF staffer Diane Scoboria, the database was unveiled
to the public during a session on debris at the annual Alaska
Forum on the Environment in Anchorage. The database can be viewed
Soon others will be allowed to input additional data into the
database. The inclusion of data from community based cleanup
efforts will help make the debris database more complete.
Formed in 2003 to tackle the marine debris problem in Alaska
and coordinate cooperative research efforts between fishermen
and scientists, the MCA Foundation is the non-profit arm of the
Juneau-based Marine Conservation Alliance, an industry association
that includes fishermen, vessel owners, seafood processors and
communities involved in the groundfish and crab fisheries in
the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Funding for MCAF debris cleanup
and research efforts comes largely through a grant from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
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