Monroe County received a total of $1.8 million in Hurricane Irma-related grant funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for the cleanup of marine debris along shorelines of the Lower Keys with a focus on fishing-related debris. Funding for the local project was through a $44.5 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in response to the fishery disaster resulting from this storm. Dozens of local commercial fishermen were hired and collected 47 tons of debris in two phases that concluded in June 2021 and January 2022.
Participants were from the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association and the Conch Republic Marine Army. The debris contractors were from Adventure Environmental, Inc. Debris collected included commercial fishing trap line, buoys, and other miscellaneous manufactured debris.
“These crews spent more than 4,700 hours picking up debris by working in unfavorable conditions in remote areas to complete this important project,” said Celia Hitchins, Monroe County Marine Resources Administrator. “They rolled up their sleeves and used a variety of small vessels, hand tools, and a fleet of specialized equipment including shallow draft barges to haul the debris to a certified disposal facility.”
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners were instrumental in bringing the program to Monroe County.
“This project was a great way to give back to our local fishermen and provide an economic benefit to a community that was hit hard by Hurricane Irma,” said Monroe County Mayor David Rice. “We are very thankful FWC granted this funding to the County and that it has resulted in significant improvements to our marine environment and the wildlife that depend on it.”