Marine debris, such as sunken and abandoned vessels, is a common problem in many coastal water bodies, and Galveston Bay is no exception. Marine 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 abandoned boats’ 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 major debris removal projects in 2005, 2009, and 2013-2015. The 2005 project resulted in the removal of twenty-one (21) derelict, sunken and/or abandoned vessels from the Galveston Bay system. Thirteen 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.
In 2009, four derelict barges were removed from Dickinson Bay. In 2013, six vessels and one steel convex box were removed from Dickinson Bay and Bayou. In late 2013 and into early 2014, thirteen vessels and three barges were removed from Cedar Bayou. In 2015, nineteen vessels were removed from various locations throughout Galveston Bay to include: Cedar Bayou, Smith Point, Clear Lake, Dickinson Bay and Bayou, West Bay, Galveston Channel, and Offatts Bayou.
The above projects were 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) (2005), EPA Gulf of Mexico Program (2009), and Coastal Impact Assistance Program Grant from the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2013-2015).
Since 2005 GBF has worked to remove sixty seven (67) large debris items from Galveston Bay waterways! This includes fifty nine (59) boats/vessels, seven (7) barges, and one (1) steel shipping container.