Marine debris is a significant challenge facing our ocean and marine wildlife, and it is an ongoing challenge in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.Marine debris, including lost or abandoned fishing gear and trash, entangles stony corals, sea fans, sponges, sea turtles, manatees, and other marine life. It also degrades seagrass, hard bottom, coral reef, and mangrove habitats, and detracts from the natural beauty of the islands.
Established in May 2018, the Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys initiative aims to remove underwater marine debris from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and educate the public about its role in marine debris prevention. Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys partners work with sanctuary-recognized Blue Star Dive Operators to educate dive professionals and recreational divers on best practices for removal of marine debris; perform scoping dives to identify debris hotspots; remove, dispose, and recycle underwater debris; conduct post-removal data reporting and analysis; and engage the public in marine debris awareness and prevention through education and outreach.
In the first year of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys efforts, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation-funded divers conducted 49 cleanup trips, engaged 450 volunteer divers, and spent nearly 900 hours underwater removing 78 intact lobster traps, hundreds of pieces of lobster trap debris, 16,369 feet of line, and 14,693 pounds of debris from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.