Cantwell Announces $270,000 in Funding for Washington State Marine Debris Removal Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, announced Washington state received $270,000 in grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for two marine debris removal projects. The Northwest Straits Marine Foundation will receive $221,200 to remove derelict crab pots from the Salish Sea, and the Makah Indian Tribe will receive $50,000 to remove derelict fishing gear from Washington’s outer coast.

“Coastal resources are a critical part of the economy and culture of the Pacific Northwest,” Senator Cantwell said. “Washington’s maritime economy contributes $50 billion to the state economy each year and supports 191,000 jobs. These grants will help preserve our outer coast and the Salish Sea and protect fish, shellfish, and our marine environment for generations to come.”

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife estimates that hundreds of thousands of pounds of derelict fishing gear has accumulated in Washington waterways. Marine debris can pose a number of risks to people and marine animals, including damaging habitat; injuring or even killing marine mammals, fish, and birds; and harming marine ecosystems.

Senator Cantwell has long made the clean-up of derelict marine debris a top priority. She has introduced bills that would speed up the clean-up of oil from derelict vessels and bolster marine mammal rescue and response, as well as called for a review of the impact of derelict vessels to waterways and coastal communities. Senator Cantwell also authored an amendment, signed into law in 2012, to improve the response to marine debris, including severe marine debris, such as from the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Senator Cantwell also wrote a letter to support the Makah Indian Tribe’s application for the NOAA grant.