Marine Debris Removal


Marine debris consisting of sunken and abandoned vessels is a common problem in many coastal water bodies, and Galveston Bay is no exception. Because the Galveston Bay system has experienced subsidence, or sinking of the ground, some debris that was once visible above the surface of the water now lies submerged, either partially or completely. Such submerged debris poses a hazard to navigation and to wading fishermen. Water quality is also compromised by marine debris, as items can restrict circulation and flow, particularly in shallow, narrow tributaries. Furthermore, the possibility of their fuel or oil reservoirs eventually rusting through, rupturing, and spilling their contents into the Bay is another threat to the ecosystem. Although a small amount of petroleum products may not kill marine organisms, it can affect vision, sense of smell, growth, and reproductive ability of these organisms, all of which threaten our marine resources as well as recreational fishing, boating, and related tourism.

GBF has completed a major debris removal project in 2005. That project resulted in the removal of twenty-one (21) derelict, sunken and/or abandoned vessels from the Galveston Bay system. Click here for details on the 21 items removed. Thirteen (13) items were removed from the Dickinson Bay system, including four from Dickinson Bayou, one from Salt Bayou, one from the Texas City Prairie Preserve shoreline on Dickinson Bay, three from Dickinson Bay, and three from Moses Lake. A fourteenth item was removed from Salt Bayou by and at the expense of the adjacent property owner. In addition, six sunken, metal vessels were removed from one location in West Bay and one from Galveston Bay, just north of Dickinson Bay, near the Houston Ship Channel.


The project was funded through the Texas General Land Office's Coastal Impact Assistance Program with funds appropriated and administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GBF has also been granted funds from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to continue marine debris removal work in Galveston Bay.

At the present time, GBF is applying for new funds to do more work removing debris around Galveston Bay and is assembling a task force of concerned bay users to identify and prioritize items for removal. To learn more about this effort, please contact Philip Smith at