Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses approximately 1,470 square miles (or 1,110 square nautical miles) of ocean waters surrounding Anacapa (Anyapakh), Santa Cruz (Limuw), Santa Rosa (Wi’ma), San Miguel (Tuqan), and Santa Barbara (Tchunashngna) Islands off the coast of Southern California. These vibrant waters are home to some of California’s most productive fishing grounds, rocky intertidal and coastal habitat, sea lion rookeries, and seabird nesting sites. Unfortunately, these islands suffer from marine debris that accumulates on underwater habitats and washes up on otherwise remote shorelines.
Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands engages local partners and commercial lobstermen to remove marine debris, including lost traps, fishing gear, and trash from Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park lands; develop opportunities and partnerships to address shoreline marine debris in the sanctuary; and implement education and outreach efforts to promote awareness and prevention of marine debris.
Launched in the summer of 2020, Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands is based on the successful Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys program, a collaboration with Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Blue Star dive operators to remove underwater marine debris, build local conservation stewards, and educate the public about marine debris prevention.
The cleanup of marine debris in the sanctuary is important to protecting the wildlife that live there. The endemic island fox sometimes forages along the shorelines of the Channel Islands. Pinniped species, such as California sea lions and Pacific harbor seals, haul out along the shorelines of Santa Cruz Island. Marine debris poses a threat to wildlife and habitat, from ingestion of plastics and entanglement in fishing gear to destruction of sensitive eelgrass beds due to lost lobster traps.
Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands builds on 20 years of shoreline cleanups on the northern Channel Islands facilitated by Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary on an ad hoc basis with partners including the University of California-Davis California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, California State University-Channel Islands, and the National Park Service. These were conducted more systematically in partnership with local commercial lobster fishers since 2016, when the California Spiny Lobster Trap Loss Prevention and Recovery Project was funded through a NOAA Marine Debris Program grant.
By collecting long-term data, continuing the important partnership with commercial lobster fishers in yearly cleanup efforts, and expanding opportunities and partnerships to address marine debris in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands aims to establish a lasting, self-sustaining marine debris removal program.