BILOXI, Miss. -- With nearly 34,000 cubic yards of marine debris removed to date from sites in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, more than 9,000 cubic yards of that amount have been pulled from an area encompassing the water's edge to one-half mile out into the Mississippi Sound.
An estimated 1.2 million cubic yards of marine debris were deposited into southern Mississippi's waterways by Hurricane Katrina.
The $231 million marine debris clearing project is a U.S. Coast Guard-directed effort funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The project calls for clearing the beach, shoreline and inland areas of marine debris left by Katrina along Mississippi's coastline.
Follow-on projects include debris removal from bays, rivers, estuaries and the intracoastal waterway system. The project also will expand into the Mississippi Sound from one-half mile to four miles from shore to remove hazards and threats to boating and fishing. A half-mile area around the barrier islands will be cleared to improve conditions for the shrimping industry. Additionally, certain areas north of Interstate 10 have been designated for debris clearance.
"The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of marine debris removal through May 15, 2007," said Nick Russo, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for Mississippi recovery.
"Removing debris from our adjacent waters is vital to Mississippians from a safety standpoint and for the continued economic recovery of Mississippi 's seafood and tourism industries," added Russo.
The project, which runs across approximately 90 miles of shoreline, is expected to be completed by Aug. 28, 2007.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003 .