In the northern Gulf of Alaska, plastic debris accumulates along the coastline, killing marine mammals through entanglement and ingestion, and damaging marine environments through the numerous chemicals compounds that leach from the plastic. Since 2006, the Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK) has worked to combat this problem through marine debris cleanups and public education efforts. In 2007, they began an ongoing marine debris monitoring project designed to identify the type of debris washing onto the shores, the annual deposition rate, and if possible, identify the source of the debris such as country or industry of origin, container spills, or debris from natural disasters such as the 2011 Japanese Tsunami. This research project has provided critical information over the past decade to policy makers such as the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Alaska Legislature, the U.S. Senate, the Government of Japan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
IF’s 2017 grant to GoAK will support a debris monitoring study in in the Prince William Sound region of the Gulf of Alaska. In this study, GoAK will visit 14 beaches on 11 islands in the Prince William Sound. Plastic debris will be collected, sorted into 150 categories, items in each category counted, and the categories separately weighed. They will also attempt to identify the country of origin of some of the debris.
- Year of grant: 2017
- Amount: $10,000
- Grantee: Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK)