Fish Radio

Marine debris air lift to launch  at Kodiak

July 8, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A massive marine debris airlift launches next week at Kodiak. More after this —

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A massive airlift project begins in Alaska next week to remove thousands of tons of marine debris from remote coastlines.

This is a really big deal for Alaska. It is unprecedented effort – a month long effort and the fact that we’re going to have a barge and also an airlift operation is a big deal. The last number I heard is that it’s going to be over 2,000 helicopter trips from barge to shore. 

Candice Bressler is Public Information Officer for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

So starting out of Kodiak we will have a 300 foot barge and it will start in Kodiak and go along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska, down through Southeast, thru British Columbia and ending in Seattle, picking up thousands of super sacks and bundles of marine debris.

Most of the debris stems from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. More than one million tons of debris set float and Japan has donated $5 million to the clean up effort.

This really wouldn’t have been possible without the unprecedented generosity from the government of Japan. They have been so generous and so open to helping out with this issue and we are so incredibly thankful for their help.

Starting in 2012 DEC began flying Alaska’s coastline to map debris by its density and movement,  and captured more than 15,000 geo-references. That helped pinpoint where to focus   clean up efforts.

We’ve found building fragments, Styrofoam, aquaculture and fishing buoys from all over, even found derelict vessels and fuel tanks and lines and nets – tons of lines and nets. 

The collaboration now includes a who’s who of state and federal agencies, private businesses and non-profits.

 Definitely our biggest player in this was Gulf of Alaska Keeper and Island Trails Network. They were so instrumental in caching all this debris throughout the Gulf of Alaska. 

The brand new Waste Management barge –  the world’s fifth largest – will dock in Kodiak next Wednesday and take on the first load of super sacks stored there. After a July 16  Open House, it will be on its way.

Follow the voyage on social media.  And find links at our website –    #bargewatch2015

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.