Marine Debris Tribal Initiatives
Marine debris, an increasingly important topic, has been in the news recently. Most recently we have learned about the increasing size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch1 and research findings that state the dangers that microplastics are having on some of the filter-feeding marine megafauna2. From time to time we hear encouraging stories where communities are working towards solutions at the local, national, and international level. Tribes along the coast are really seeing these effects and doing something about it.
Cleaning up the mess that ends up on coastal Tribal lands is a huge effort. The Coquille Tribe has partnered up with NOAA, the Surfrider foundation, and Oregon environmental organizations to engage youth in community service learning projects for prevention and removal of marine debris along Oregon coasts3. In Washington the Quinault Tribe4 and Stillaguamish Tribe (a member of the West Coast Marine Debris Alliance)5 have centered their initiatives on fisheries debris, by working to survey and develop recovery programs for lost crab pots and removing the pots when possible. The Makah Tribe has held beach clean ups along Washington coasts and are working to remove abandoned vessels from the Neah Bay Marina6. The Wiyot Tribe of California,7 and the Native Villages of Shishmaref, Wales, and Kotzebue8 have also led major efforts for debris removal along the North Pacific coasts.
Staying involved in marine planning for the protection of ocean ecosystems is just as important. Tribes with marine planning departments and members involved in regional and national planning efforts are increasing. When new Marine Protected Areas were proposed in California, the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council made sure Tribal input and protections were included9. In 2017, representatives from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw have collaborated on the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan3. On a national level, 13 Tribes are represented in the West Coast Regional Planning Body to plan and manage ocean ecosystems10. The Tolowa Dee-ni Nation in Northern California opened up dialog of Native management initiatives by coordinating the Indigenous Ocean Science Forum in 201311. Here, Pacific coast Tribes worked together to develop a Common Tribal Marine Planning Framework12 which incorporates Tribal values and Traditional Ecological Knowledge to guide sustainable ocean activities and management.
So give it up for these Tribes and others who are taking initiative on solutions to debris and ocean ecosystem management. Now, the next time you see a water bottle rolling around from the wind, lend a hand to Tribes down river/wind and find the best way to recycle or re-use it. And remember that refusing single use items and plastic is another way to help. For more reading on these issues follow the links below.
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch Article: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/great-pacific-garbage-patch-plastics-environment/.
- Microplastics and filter feeding megafauna: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/03/microplastic-pollution-in-worlds-oceans-poses-major-threat-to-filter-feeding-megafauna/.
- Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/publications-files/2017_Oregon_Marine_Debris_Action_Plan.pdf.
- Quinault Marine Resources Program: http://qlandandwater.org/departments/fisheries/marine-resources/.
- Stillaguamish Tribe: http://www.stillaguamish.com/derelictfishggear.asp.
- Makah Tribe: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/removal/removal-sunken-derelict-vessels-makah-marina-neah-bay-wa.
- Wiyot Tribe: http://www.wiyot.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/49.
- Alaska Native Villages: https://www.nps.gov/articles/aps-15-1-10.htm.
- InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=47378
- West Coast Regional Planning Body: http://www.westcoastmarineplanning.org/partners/.
- Smith River Rancheria Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation: http://www.tolowa-nsn.gov/tcmsp/.
- Tribal Marine Planning Framework: http://www.tolowa-nsn.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/ 02/Summary-Handout_Tribal-Data-Framework-and-Standards_v5_Final.pdf.
Original post by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
Reposted by the Quinault Division of Natural Resources