Marine cleanup project clears over 900 tons of debris from coastal waterways


SWANSBORO, N.C. (WNCT) — The North Carolina Coastal Federation hosted an appreciation lunch Monday for crews who have spent the past two years cleaning more than 900 tons of debris out of public waterways.

The project was developed as not only a way to save our waterways, but to provide jobs for fishermen whose waters saw much fewer fish to catch in a lot of spots after Hurricane Florence in 2018.

“Florence devastated us. I actually had a seafood house and it killed 75 to 80 percent of our clams … and this job come along, and I said, ‘well we need to do something’,” said Joey Huie, who worked as the Captain of one of the Onslow County cleanup crews.

“I really like going back to where we’ve been, where there was nothing but mud, and go back into the marshes and see the grasses grow back and flowers grow back … it makes me feel good, you know,” he added.

The project hired over 50 fishermen and women as cleanup crew members.

“The best part of the job for me was being able to work with a close group of guys that I grew up with, the captain on my crew was my father, and then the other two guys, I had known since I was small,” said Joe Huie, son of Joey Huie.

The debris collected was 80 percent lumber, the rest was dock floats, trash, lost fishing gear, and other various items. Debris collected since February of 2019 weighed in at 1,846,020 pounds.

The weight of the debris removed was equal to six blue whales. It was either recycled, repurposed or disposed of properly, officials said.

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