Marine debris is becoming a major problem for the people of Alaska. As Chris Pallister, president of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, put it when he told the congressional panel that dealing with the issue will take funding, enforcement, education and international cooperation -- no simple lift.
Cleaning just the most impacted shorelines in Alaska would cost at least $100 million. There is an ongoing Alaska cleanup effort in an area that holds 30 tons of plastic debris per mile, along shorelines with virtually no vehicle access.
Jenna Jambeck, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia pointed to research that shows there are five main countries responsible for most of the marine debris problem, which is mostly a plastic problem: China, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia -- all rapidly developing nations.
In NW Alaska, the NWAB had received grant funding through the USFWS, CIAP Program (Coastal Impact Assistance Program), to assist villages in NW in cleaning up marine debris. The funding, which is now closed, provided marine debris safety and logistics training to each village. Plans were created on how to recycle, dump, or backhaul marine debris in a way that could be carried out for years ahead. Much of the work was volunteer driven. Buckland had an astounding 58 volunteers who cleaned up approximately 760 miles of river and coastal beaches and collected over 570 33-gallon bags of debris! Keep up the great work.