Port of New Bedford installs a marina trash skimmer to improve ocean health
Edward Washburn, Executive Director at New Bedford Port Authority, joined decision makers, partners and stakeholders to announce the installation of the Port of New Bedford Marina Trash Skimmer. This installation in New Bedford marks the expansion of the innovative marina trash skimmer technology in the top fishing port in the country with the goal to eliminate marine debris and improve coastal water quality.
Funded by 11th Hour Racing, the Port of New Bedford Marina Trash Skimmer is part of the Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmer program, a multi-year initiative by Clean Ocean Access (COA) that seeks to improve the health of southern New England’s harbors and marinas frequented by tens of thousands of residents and visited by millions of tourists annually.
Education and outreach efforts to engage the broader New Bedford community through the marina trash skimmer program are made possible by funding from the Amgen Foundation and the Island Foundation, and sponsorship support from Buzzards Bay Coalition, Imtra Corporation and Bay Line Inc.
“The purpose of the project is to bring awareness to the types of materials that are littering our communities and finding their way via stormwater into our coastal waters. The skimmer is the last line of defense for our oceans, and each installation allows for open, positive and forward-thinking conversation of how to solve the local and global problem of litter and marine debris,” says Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Access.
Floating marine debris not only presents a nuisance to recreational and commercial vessels it also impairs water quality and degrades marine habitat and ecosystems that are critical to Massachusetts’s coastal communities. The Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmer program strengthens and expands the current efforts for improving water quality and eliminating marine debris from the shoreline and nearshore water across the region. Marina Trash skimmers are a production-ready technology and highly effective method for removing surface marine debris, absorbing toxins and pollutants, and improving the vitality of our local waters.
Proudly shared by Ed Washburn, Executive Director of New Bedford Port Authority, “We are excited to be a partner in this important project, helping spread the message that a clean and sustainable harbor is a top priority in the Port of New Bedford and for the commercial fishermen who are invested in the future of this harbor.”
The Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmer program builds on COA’s proven success with two trash skimmer installations in Newport Harbor in partnership with the City of Newport (2016), one in Portsmouth in partnership with New England Boatworks, and one at Fort Adams State Park in partnership with Sail Newport (2017). To date, the four COA-operated marina trash skimmers on Aquidneck Island have removed over 20,000 pounds of marine debris and 27,000 individual items of litter from local waterways.
The Port of New Bedford Marina Trash Skimmer is the culmination of regional efforts to curb plastic pollution and address marine debris. Last year, Rhode Island became the first state to sign the UN Environment’s Clean Seas Pledge during the Newport stopover of the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race. The Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmer program upholds the region’s reputation as a national leader to address plastic pollution with a comprehensive approach that combines marine debris removal with prevention and education.
“Ocean stewardship and ocean health are key fundamentals of the Community Boating Center.” As reported by Andy Herlihy, Executive Director of Community Boating Center. “Our vision with the marina trash skimmer project is to create a system of change to promote ocean health starting with the youth of our community through year-round education programs. The marina trash skimmer not only removes debris from the harbor but more importantly it will educate the community that our actions on land effect the ocean’s health.”
“We are thrilled to have two of our grantees working together to raise awareness on marine debris,” noted Michelle Carnevale, 11th Hour Racing’s Program Manager. “We hope the installation will encourage more community sailing centers, and waterfront businesses to adopt this technology and will help the community of New Bedford understand the types of plastic pollution entering their waterways.”
The marina trash skimmer is manufactured, sold and supported by KECO Pump & Equipment (San Diego, California), and is an underwater dumpster measuring 4’x6’x5’ and is attached to a floating dock. A 3/4 horsepower water circulation unit using a Vacuum Driven Aerator (VDA) forces aerated water out of the skimmer; this results in a current on the surface, as the water inside the unit seeks its own level, it draws debris, oil sheen that has emulsified (and further increases adhesion and helps surrounding biological media) due to the dissolved air, to enter and be trapped inside the unit. Over 300 gallons of water is cleaned and aerated per minute. Marina maintenance crews remove the collected floating debris trapped within the unit. Marina trash skimmers are highly effective, require little maintenance, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and use approximately 25kw/ day resulting in minimal operating expenses.
The Marina Trash Skimmer has been produced for over 10 years and is the premier floating debris removal device. In 2017 alone, the network of Marina Trash Skimmers collected over 308,880 gallons of trash debris, that’s over 1,389,960 pounds!” reported Andrew Bleier, Senior Vice President of KECO. Andrew also reported, “Engineering of version 2.0 has been underway for several months and has now entered the extensive testing phases and will be a scalable solution offered in a variety of sizes and configurations.”
The long-range goal of the Southeast New England Marina Trash Skimmer program is to reduce the amount of marine debris entering Narragansett Bay from stormwater runoff, increase the recreational and commercial value of the waterfront, bring awareness to the types of re-accumulating debris via education and outreach, and promote environmental stewardship.
“Marine debris is a time sensitive issue impacting ocean health and is a solvable problem and starts with smart choices on land. Combining four marina trash skimmers with our existing year-round shoreline cleanup efforts, and education and outreach efforts – it positions us to successfully inspire, educate and empower the community to make better choices on land. Whether it is eliminating single-use material from our daily lives, composting our food scraps, recycling right, or increasing our level of responsibility to ensure no trash ends up as litter – each one of us in the Ocean State can take action today so that we become the role model for environmental stewardship,” as reported by Clean Ocean Access Executive Director, Dave McLaughlin. “Think about your choices, and never expect change if you don’t do it yourself. Start with yourself, start today.”