Many agencies and organizations in the United States are implementing habitat restoration using a wide array of methods across a variety of habitats. These efforts are often motivated by legislative actions like the Oil Pollution Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Clean Water Act but may also be implemented to meet the mission statements of particular agencies and organizations. While the goals and objectives of restoration efforts vary greatly and the range of potential restoration alternatives is large, these activities fall into three general categories; direct restoration, prevention and public education.

The removal of derelict, abandoned and grounded vessels is a tool that can be used as an effective part of many habitat restoration projects. Removals, on their own or in conjunction with other actions, clearly can be used as part of direct restoration. Additionally, in almost every case a removal will also reduce or prevent the threat of future harm to natural, public, or private resources as well as public safety.

The four case studies presented highlight the benefits of removal and hazards of failing to act. The Seagull (Guam) demonstrates how effective cooperation can successfully salvage a valuable vessel while protecting natural resources. The M/V Kimton (Puerto Rico) demonstrates that simply removing oil from a grounded vessel is not necessarily the best alternative. The F/V Mwaalil Saat (Saipan) is an example of what can happen if a vessel is identified as a threat but is not removed and the Tesoro Net Removal Project (Kauai, HI) is a valuable example of how the removal of debris unrelated to the primary incident can be a preferred restoration alternative.

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Author notes

1 Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the position of NOAA, the Department of Commerce, or the United States.