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Goal Clean Seas: Florida Keys
Underwater debris poses a high risk of damaging the marine environment. 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.
In April 2017, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation announced a funding opportunity for the removal of marine debris within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary following Hurricane Irma. The effort supports the Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys initiative to engage local tour operators, businesses, and residents in underwater marine debris removal efforts as part of local hurricane recovery. Projects supported include identifying and removing displaced and destroyed lobster traps, fishing gear and other large debris from target areas within the sanctuary.
In the first year of Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys efforts, National Marine Sanctuary Foundationfunded 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.