More than 500 tons of marine debris washes up on Texas shorelines each year. This debris ranges in size from small, plastic bottles to large, abandoned fishing vessels, but it all shares the same origin – people. If left alone, some types of trash may persist in the environment for hundreds of years. In addition to being an eyesore, marine debris is a threat to wildlife that may ingest the trash or become entangled, and it can also engulf and smother the habitats that birds, fish, and other animals rely on for shelter and food. Marine debris poses a safety hazard for humans if fishing gear or other types of trash become wrapped around boat propellers or clog seawater intakes. The Reserve stewardship program educates the public about the problems associated with marine debris, organizes local clean-ups, and promotes the reduction, reuse, and recycling of waste.
The Reserve stewardship program participates in the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program sponsored by Texas Sea Grant. Monofilament is another name for the nylon fishing line used on most fishing reels. It is non-biodegradable, and when left in the environment, it poses a severe threat to wildlife that can easily become entangled. The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program is a statewide program in Texas and is designed to educate the public on the problems caused by leaving monofilament in the environment and to encourage recycling through a network of bins and drop-off locations. The stewardship program works with local volunteers to maintain several indoor and outdoor bins throughout the Reserve. The recycled monofilament is collected from the bins and cleaned of hooks, leaders, weights, and trash before it is mailed off and recycled into other plastic products.
The UTMSI Green Team is a volunteer-based group of faculty, staff, and students from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute that are committed to reducing their environmental impact and promoting better stewardship of our natural resources. The group meets on a regular basis to discuss environmental issues that affect their workplace and the local community. They then try to develop solutions to these problems. The Green Team has already made a positive impact on their workplace and the community through regular trash clean-ups, recycling programs, and incentive programs for bicycling to work.
The UTMSI Green Team hosts regular clean-ups of the South Jetty.
Outdoor monofilament recycling bins are located throughout Port Aransas and the Rockport-Fulton area.
UTMSI Green Team building outdoor recycling bins out of reclaimed wood.