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Logo: Calcasieu Lake Marine Debis

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After 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 of debris.


  • 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.
Image: Hurricane Rita scattered marine debris throughout the Calcasieu Lake area.
Young members of the Vincent family agree to help with debris marking and mapping as they head out for a day of trout fishing.

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.

Image: An industrial tank rests in the marsh along Calcasieu Lake.
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.

Chartlette 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.

The 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 marker.


Image: Hurricane Rita scattered marine debris throughout the Calcasieu Lake area.
Wilfred LeBlanc reports GPS coordinates of marine debris he found.

Tim Osborn
(337) 291-2111

Kevin Savoie
(337) 475-8812

Justin Farrell
(225) 578-6348

Paula Ouder
(225) 578-6451

Involvement of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey with the funding and support of NOAA's 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.

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NOAA Marine Debris Program
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