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2018 Marine Debris Removal

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, IHEs, and
Agencies to Remove Debris from Marine Habitats

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Department of Commerce - National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Marine Debris Program (MDP)

Deadline Date:

11/01/17 11:59 PM ET Postmark or Receipt


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, for-profits, IHEs, and government agencies for community-based, locally-driven marine debris removal activities. Supported projects will result in long-term and quantifiable habitat improvements.

Priority will be given to the removal of derelict fishing gear, as well as other medium-and large-scale debris. Projects should also foster awareness of the effects of marine debris to further the conservation of living marine resource habitats, and contribute to the understanding of marine debris composition, distribution and impacts.

Marine debris is defined as "any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes" (15 C.F.R. § 909.1). Marine debris can include land based solid waste items such as plastic bags, cigarette butts, foam take-out containers, or balloons, as well as ocean-based items such as derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels. Marine debris is primarily the result of human actions such as ineffective or improper waste management, dumping and littering, or storm water runoff. Fishing gear may be lost from storms or accidents and become marine debris. There are many adverse impacts from marine debris, including wildlife injury and death from entanglement or ingestion, exposure to toxic chemicals which attach to or are in plastics, habitat destruction, vessel damage, and economic loss to tourism, fisheries and maritime activities.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP), a division of the Office of Response and Restoration, leads national efforts to address marine debris. The mission of the NOAA MDP is to identify and solve the problems that stem from marine debris through research, prevention, and reduction activities, in order to conserve and protect our nation’s marine environment and coastal economy from the impacts of marine debris as well as ensure navigation safety.

A principal objective of the NOAA MDP is to provide financial and technical assistance to organizations with the expertise to identify, evaluate, and execute marine debris removal projects. The activities supported by this solicitation develop impactful, community-driven and cost-effective projects that improve living marine resource habitats through the removal of marine debris. These activities align with NOAA's mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources, and promote stewardship and a conservation ethic for NOAA trust resources.

NOAA trust resources are living marine resources and their habitats, including commercial and recreational fishery resources (marine and Great Lakes fish and shellfish); coastal habitats; diadromous fish species; endangered and threatened marine species; marine mammals and marine turtles; marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, other coastal habitats; Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs). NOAA trust resources can also include marine habitats and resources associated with National Marine Sanctuaries, National Estuarine Research Reserves and areas under state coastal management programs, including Areas of Concern within the Great Lakes.

A second objective of the NOAA MDP is to promote marine debris awareness, prevention and tangible project outcomes by collaborating with diverse entities and groups. These include partnerships with public and nonprofit organizations, citizen and watershed groups, anglers, boaters, industry (e.g. the commercial fishing industry, fishing gear manufacturers, other marine industries, and the plastic and waste management industries), corporations and businesses, youth conservation corps, students, landowners, academics, and local, state, and federal government agencies.

Program Priorities:

The highest program priorities for this solicitation are the detection and removal of derelict fishing gear and the removal of medium-to large-scale marine debris that have a negative impact on NOAA trust resources and important habitat areas. Derelict fishing gear includes, but is not limited to, such items as abandoned crab or lobster pots, fish nets, and synthetic (e.g., monofilament, polypropylene) line. Medium and large-scale debris are items that generally cannot be manually removed by an individual. Such projects must comply with applicable federal and state laws regarding handling and ownership.

Other priority activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Proposals that pair removal activities with technically-sound, cost-effective habitat monitoring that measures the benefits of debris removal to NOAA trust resources. This includes pre-and post-removal monitoring of the removal site, and should include information on the areal extent and habitat types impacted by the debris, objective measures of ecosystem health in and around the removal site, species impacts and mortality rates, length of time debris will cause impacts if not removed, or other additional data the NOAA MDP may require. Such monitoring projects may receive higher priority under this funding opportunity.

-Abandoned / derelict vessel (ADV) removal and associated vessel debris removal activities. Proposals for ADV removal activities must demonstrate direct benefits to the aforementioned habitats. Proposals should also identify specific vessels or discrete target removal areas and utilize existing prioritized inventories of derelict vessels such as those maintained by state regulatory agencies. Proposals with an ADV removal component should indicate that a search for responsible parties, such as the vessel’s owner, has been conducted and that no acceptable responsible party exists.

-Detection and removal of debris resulting from hurricanes or other natural disasters.

-Detection and removal of legacy aquaculture debris. Legacy aquaculture debris removal proposals should indicate that a search for responsible parties (such as the property’s current or former owner) has been conducted and that no acceptable responsible party exists.

-Repeated shoreline or riparian cleanup projects are not a high priority for this competition. However, such projects are eligible if they are coupled with a significant, high-quality outreach program or volunteer involvement that aims to reduce or prevent future accumulation of marine debris. Such projects may include cleanups of shoreline litter, as well as timed, targeted watershed "hot spot" cleanups to prevent seasonal debris inundation into sensitive habitats utilized by NOAA trust resources. For such activities, the NOAA MDP has developed standardized marine debris shoreline survey protocols to facilitate regional and site-specific comparisons of debris loads. If a proposal has a shoreline cleanup component, applicants should contact the NOAA MDP to discuss whether it would be appropriate to incorporate NOAA MDP debris data collection protocols.

-Derelict piling removal projects should have a meaningful benefit to NOAA trust resources or have a strong debris impact-related reason supporting removal (e.g., derelict pilings that snag marine debris and add to the impact of this debris in that area or pilings that are breaking up and generating more debris). Such projects will be considered only if there is a strong link to habitat impacts, there is landowner and/or regulatory permission to conduct the removal, and the removal is one component of a greater marine debris removal proposal or are recognized as a priority through a regional prioritization process. Piling removal proposals should indicate that a search for responsible parties (such as the property’s current or former owner) has been conducted and that no acceptable responsible party exists.

Strong proposals will integrate innovative, sustainable approaches to disposal of debris (i.e. re-use, recycling, energy recovery, use of open shipping capacity to reduce transport costs (also known as "backhauling"), partnering with local waste management companies, etc.). NOAA may consider the disposal methodology and whether these types of sustainable disposal options are integrated into the project as a selection factor when making final funding recommendations.

Prevention, outreach, education, volunteer activities and data collection are important aspects of debris removal projects. Proposals are encouraged to include such activities as project components, but should not be the main focus of the project -proposals that focus mainly on prevention through education and outreach are not a priority for this competition.

These activities should be tied to, and include substantial interaction with the targeted user groups prioritized in Section I. A. For outreach activities in general, applicants are encouraged to incorporate existing outreach and educational resources into their projects. Similarly, proposals may include any associated habitat restoration costs that may be needed, however such costs must be minimal and directly address habitat impaired by debris removed under the project.

Projects taking place in Sanctuaries, Reserves, or other protected areas may receive greater consideration for funding in this competition. However, projects are not limited to these areas and may even take place in remote or urbanized areas. Despite project location, all proposals must have a primary emphasis on removal activities that benefit NOAA trust resources described above and must clearly lay out the direct links to such resources.

The NOAA MDP encourages projects implementing activities that fit into any existing national or regional programs, priorities or strategic plans to address marine debris (e.g. National Estuary Program or NOAA Habitat Focus Area sites, the Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan, the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan, the Hawai’i Marine Debris Action Plan, the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan, the Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan, etc.) and describe how they do so.

Because funding is limited, proposals requesting support for large equipment purchases, to expand an organization's day-to-day administrative or program management activities or to support strictly administration, salaries, overhead, and travel without being part of a specific project will be a low priority. If a project requires funding for large equipment purchases, collection facilities, or other long-term operations, the application should identify how the overall project will continue into the future and how any equipment operation and maintenance costs will be paid for beyond the award period. Projects that are duplicative of those that the NOAA MDP currently supports or those that have been funded by NOAA, partner organizations, and/or other federal agencies may not receive priority.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 148236

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

The NOAA MDP anticipates that between 8 and 15 awards will be made under this solicitation.

Estimated Size of Grant:

The NOAA MDP will not fund proposals for removal activities at less than $50,000 or more than $250,000 under this solicitation.

Typical project awards range from $50,000 to $150,000.

For projects that include habitat recovery monitoring activities, applicants may request additional funds not to exceed $100,000 for such activities, for a project of up to $350,000. In such cases the NOAA MDP would work with successful applicants to determine final levels of monitoring effort and funding.

Term of Contract:

Applications should cover a period of performance from one to three years in duration. However, NOAA expects that all removal activities should be completed within two years of
the start date of the award, and that the third year would be used for monitoring activities only. If monitoring activities are to be conducted before or following removal, NOAA may consider applications with a period of performance beyond two years as long as there is reasonable justification provided.

The earliest anticipated start date for awards will be August 1, 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:


In accordance with the Marine Debris Act, eligible applicants are state, local, and tribal governments whose activities affect research or regulation of marine debris and any institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or commercial (for-profit) organization with expertise in a field related to marine debris. Applications from federal agencies or employees of federal agencies will not be considered. Interested federal agencies may collaborate with eligible applicants but may not receive funds through this competition.

All projects must take place within the United States or territories or their respective waterways. Foreign organizations and foreign public entities are not eligible to apply as the primary applicant but can be listed as a sub-awardee or contractor.

NOAA is strongly committed to broadening the participation of veterans, minority-serving institutions, and entities that work in underserved areas. The NOAA MDP encourages proposals from, or involving any of the above types of institutions.

Applications that have been submitted to other NOAA grant programs or as part of another NOAA grant may be considered under this solicitation.


Projects focused on removing primarily hazards to navigation, human health, or removals for aesthetic purposes, with no clear connection to NOAA trust resources are not a focus of this grant competition.

Applicants should also note that the following activities, in general, will not be considered under this competition: (1) activities that constitute legally required mitigation for the adverse effects of an activity regulated or otherwise governed by local, state, or federal law; (2) activities that constitute restoration for natural resource damages under federal, state, or local law; and (3) activities that are required by a separate consent decree, court order, statute, or regulation.

Applications addressing other types of pollution not fitting the definition of marine debris provided in the guidelines are not priorities for this solicitation and may not be considered.

Pre-Application Information:

A major goal of the NOAA MDP is to fund projects that leverage the investment of federal funds with other contributions from a broad range of public and private partners. To this end, applicants must provide a minimum 1:1 ratio of non-federal matching contributions to NOAA funds requested to conduct the proposed project. In addition to required cost sharing, the NOAA MDP encourages applicants to leverage additional investment where possible.

Full proposals must be received and validated by, postmarked, or provided to a delivery service on or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time, November 1, 2017.

Successful applications generally will be identified by May 1, 2018.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Tom Barry

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming