LAKE MARINE DEBRIS
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postponement due to an oil spill, the Calcasieu Lake Marine Debris
Marking and Mapping Program enjoyed a successful kickoff July
15 thanks to the involvement of fishermen participating in the
21st Annual Lake Charles Coastal Conservation Association Trout
Shoot Out. The second volunteer roundup was Aug. 26. So far, individuals,
businesses and agency partners have reported more than 90 pieces
Louisiana Sea Grant, the LSU Agricultural Center and the Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are conducting ground-truthing
to verify the position and condition of reported marine debris.
The first marine
debris map is now available online. Please note that many
unmarked and unreported obstructions remains in the lake.
The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ Underwater
Obstruction Program has committed approximately $250,000 to
hire contractors beginning in November or December to remove
debris identified by the Calcasieu Lake Marine Debris Marking
and Mapping Program.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is the program’s
newest partner, contributing the use of its side scan sonar-equipped
boat to search for submerged debris.
Young members of the Vincent family agree
to help with debris marking and mapping as they head out
for a day of trout fishing.
YOU CAN HELP
Maps and debris
markers are available at no charge at Calcasieu Point Landing,
3955 Henry Pugh Blvd., Lake Charles. Boaters are asked to keep
these materials onboard and to mark and report
debris they find during their travels.
Hurricane Rita scattered residential, industrial and vegetative
debris throughout the Calcasieu Lake estuary system, creating
hazards for recreational and commercial boaters, as well as their
vessels and gear. In an attempt to make the waters safer, and
to guide cleanup operations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) Office of Coast Survey, Louisiana Sea Grant
College Program, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Lake
Charles Power Squadron, LSU Agricultural Center, Louisiana Department
of Wildlife and Fisheries, Lake Charles Pilots, U.S. Coast Guard
Auxiliary and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office have teamed
up to mark and map as much of this marine debris as possible.
Local businesses Sempra Energy, Ship to Shore Co., Capt. Sammie
Faulk of Gotta-Go Charters and Stine Lumber also have provided
support to the project.
Justin Farrell (from left), Cliff Cosgrove
and Kevin Savoie mark a metal tank with a foam float and
a PVC pipe.
Calcasieu Lake is a brackish, open-bay system located in both
Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. The lake is roughly 18 miles long
and 10 miles across at its widest point and is part of a much
larger estuary system fed by the Calcasieu River. These waters
are used by charter boat operators and commercial and recreational
fishermen alike. The area supports finfish, oyster, crab and shrimp
harvesting, contains a deep-draft shipping channel, and offers
Gulf of Mexico access at the town of Cameron.
The immediate goal of the Calcasieu Lake Marine Debris Marking
and Mapping Program is to assist in Louisiana’s hurricane
recovery by reducing storm-driven navigation hazards and environmental
threats. The near-term objective is to facilitate a cleanup of
the Calcasieu estuary and to educate people about marine debris.
graphics of three survey sites within the estuary (Calcasieu Lake,
Moss Lake and West Cove) were assembled by NOAA, and these locations
were divided into transects 200 to 1,000 meters apart. Each transect
was assigned an exclusive number to eliminate duplicate effort,
and GPS coordinates for the beginning and end of each transect
were listed. Volunteers were asked to follow one complete transect
line on survey days. Any large marine debris they encountered
was described, logged using GPS (LAT/LON), and uniformly marked.
Debris that has the potential to shift, move or sink with the
tidal current is marked with an orange foam bullet float. These
floats were carefully selected so as to not interfere with U.S.
Coast Guard markers and other navigational aids. Stationary or
submerged debris is flagged with 1.5-inch diameter PVC pipe pushed
into the soft lake bottom. Note that none of these markers are
officially sanctioned aids to navigation.
location of marine debris hazards reported by volunteers is being
compiled, mapped and ground-truthed. This information is available
online via the “Marine Debris Map” link at left and
will be updated when appropriate. The second phase of the project
is using side scan sonar to assess and map submerged debris that
is not visible above the waterline.
Though the volunteer roundup days are over, project organizers
ask boaters to be alert to unmarked hazards, to continue to report
them, and to make every effort to flag these items with a project-provided
Wilfred LeBlanc reports GPS coordinates of
marine debris he found.
of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey with the funding and support
Marine Debris Program, which is part of the NOAA Office of
Response and Restoration (National Ocean Service). The NOAA Marine
Debris Program works with other NOAA offices and partners to support
national, state, local and international efforts to protect and
conserve our nation’s natural resources and coastal waterways
from the impacts of marine debris.