Partnering Up for a Clean Up: Coastal Cleanup Day in the Channel Islands


Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Affiliate, Pike Spector, helps remove lost lobster traps from the shoreline of Santa Cruz Island. Photo credit: Claire Fackler

On September 3rd, Goal Clean Seas: Channel Islands kicked off Coastal Cleanup Day with a cleanup along the shore of Santa Cruz Island within Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park. The team included twenty-three volunteers working from the NOAA R/V Shearwater, two local commercial lobstermen, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This cleanup coincided with both the annual International and California Coastal Cleanup Day.

Local commercial lobster fisherman Jim Colomy offloading collected lobster traps at the Santa Barbara Harbor. Photo credit: Claire Fackler

The cleanup participants utilized kayaks provided by Paddle Sports Center of Santa Barbara to get from their respective vessels to a one mile-long stretch of rocky shoreline along the south side of Santa Cruz Island. This cleanup site is adjacent to Yellowbanks, a productive lobster fishing area within Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.  The sanctuary contains some of California’s most productive fishing grounds. Removal of marine debris and lost fishing gear from the Channel Islands not only helps prevent or diminish damage to the sensitive shoreline and coastal habitats, but also benefits the valuable California spiny lobster commercial fishery by reducing ghost fishing and the chance of marine life entanglement or entrapment in debris or fishing gear. 

Volunteer Penny Owens from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper collects various plastic debris that washed up on Santa Cruz Island. Photo credit: Amber McEldowney

The cleanup crew spent the day collecting and recording marine debris deposited by waves, tides and currents. To remove the debris from the island, teams collaborated seamlessly to employ a combination of kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and a lobster rope pulley system to safely transport lobster traps and bags of debris back to the vessels waiting offshore. The armada of cleanup vessels returned to Santa Barbara Harbor where a Marborg Inc. 40-yard roll-off container was waiting to take the debris for proper mainland disposal. They successfully removed 2,200 pounds of marine debris, including lost lobster traps, buoys, rope, and miscellaneous plastics.

This cleanup was part of an ongoing initiative, Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands, funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Another cleanup was conducted  in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in August in association with Get Into Your Sanctuary Week. Both cleanups were compliant with current CDC guidelines.

A view of the beach with some of the marine debris found at the cleanup site. Photo credit: Kennedy Rivera