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Tips for a Marine Debris-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

By: Marine Debris Program staff

Cartoon turkeyThanksgiving dinners come in all shapes and sizes – from small “Friendsgiving” get-togethers to large rambunctious family affairs. No matter what you’re doing this year, the amount of trash you’re left with at the end will likely be more than usual. According to the EPA, the volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.

Some of that waste will undoubtedly become marine debris. We in the Marine Debris Program are so thankful for our ocean (and our partners), and we hope you are too, so here are a few tips you can use to reduce waste and marine debris from your Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Take reusable shopping bags to pick up ingredients for your dinner.
  • Consider getting bulk ingredients or those that use minimal packaging.
  • Use reusable dishes – plates, utensils, and cups.
  • If your guest list is bigger than your dish collection and you must use disposables, look for items that can be recycled at your curbside.
  • Have a clearly marked recycling bin for your guests. There’s nothing worse than seeing plastic bottles in the trash!

Happy eating and Happy Thanksgiving!


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We Are Thankful for Our Partners

By: Marine Debris Program Staff

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is taking time to remember a few things for which we are thankful. One in particular is our partners, with their help we were able to make real progress in our efforts to address marine debris this year.

With our partners, the NOAA Marine Debris Program removed 247,188 pounds of debris

and reached over 12,628 students and 168 educators through education and outreach projects.

And with their help, we will continue to research, prevent, and reduce the impacts of marine debris.
Thank you!


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Disbanding the Oregon Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Task Force

A dock that came ashore on Agate Beach in Oregon was confirmed to be one of four docks that swept away from Japan's coastline after the devastating March 2011 tsunami.

A dock that came ashore on Agate Beach in Oregon was confirmed to be one of four docks that swept away from Japan’s coastline after the devastating March 2011 tsunami.

On October 29th, 2014, the Oregon Japan Tsunami Marine Debris (JTMD) Task Force met for the last time, reviewed past and present JTMD activities, and disbanded. The end of the Task Force’s service is a good example of how a task force can come together and then dissolve to focus on other pressing regional priorities. It’s also an indication that Japan tsunami marine debris, which was front and center of public and media attention two years ago, has now diminished. JTMD will continue to be researched and studied but it has always been part of the larger and persistent marine debris problem that impacts the world’s oceans.

The “Oregon JTMD Task Force” was established shortly after the floating dock from Misawa, identified as Japan tsunami marine debris, landed on Agate beach, near Newport, Oregon. Task Force members included representatives from state, federal, and local agencies, NGOs and academia. They collaborated closely over the last two and a half years to address JTMD. They drafted the Oregon JTMD Plan and conducted public meetings to introduce it. As funding to address JTMD became available from NOAA and through a generous gift from the Government of Japan, the Task Force put it to good use. The Task Force met periodically to provide updates and discuss JTMD issues, and its members have collaborated to study invasive species found on JTMD, and remove JTMD items, big and small, from the Oregon coast, with the help of thousands of dedicated volunteers.

Recently, the Government of Japan confirmed this blue box that came ashore in Lakewood, Oregion to be JTMD.

Recently, the Government of Japan confirmed this blue box that came ashore in Lakewood, Oregion to be JTMD.

It is telling that a week prior to the Task Force’s last meeting, a large blue plastic box was found near Lakewood, Oregon, a box that has since been confirmed by the Government of Japan as having washed out from Fudai Village in Iwate Prefecture during the tsunami. More JTMD, mixed with other marine debris from places near and far, will surely come ashore in the months and even years to come, but the entities that were part of the Oregon JTMD Task Force now benefit from the experience gained, the response plan created, the lessons learned, and the on-going collaboration of all involved, and be well prepared to handle whatever washes ashore.


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Let’s Celebrate America Recycles Day this Saturday

By: NOAA Marine Debris Program staff
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America Recycles Day is coming! On Saturday, November 15, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) asks that you ‘Snap a selfie while recycling’ and use #RecyclingSelfie when sharing on social media.

With KAB’s national initiative America Recycles Day just around the corner, we at the NOAA Marine Debris Program want to remind everyone to how important it is to recycle. Many local municipalities support proper waste management, and through recycling, we can keep much of our waste out of the ocean. Remember to check your local options for recycling, and then commit to it!

For example, at the NOAA MDP’s home base in Montgomery County, Maryland, there’s a great database for closing the loop, called “Use It Again.” Here, one can search for local businesses and organizations that help in renting, repairing, donating or selling used items. And for quick and easy reference in what to toss in your home curbside bins, use the “Top 10 in the Bin.”

Find your own recycling contribution and join the #AmericaRecyclesDay conversation.


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9th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit

By: NOAA Marine Debris Program staff

On November 7, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, hosted The 9th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit.

Nancy Wallace, Director of the Marine Debris Program (MDP) at NOAA, provided this year’s opening remarks, championing local solutions to the global issue of marine debris and urging attendees to pledge to make at least one small change in their lives to help keep trash out of our Potomac River, and our ocean.

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In addition, Jason Rolfe, the program’s Mid-Atlantic and Caribbean Regional Coordinator, moderated discussions on how public and private sector partnerships can bolster existing efforts to eliminate litter. These sessions resulted in concrete actions the working group will take to strengthen those connections. MDP also hosted a table to answer questions and inform attendees curious or unfamiliar with the topic of marine debris. Everyone seemed excited to share the ‘Keep the Sea Free of Debris’ message.

Additional speakers and attendees included representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, Washington, DC’s Department of the Environment, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Local businesses and nonprofits. Jim Dinegar, the President and Chief Executive officer of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, closed the Trash Summit with a compelling Keynote speech about the Greater Washington Area and the connections forged between economic prosperity and the pursuit of greener industry.

Throughout the Trash Summit, participants were urged to make personal pledges with their working group and leave those discussions armed with additional knowledge on how to better implement those changes. The Trash Summit organizers collected the pledges made and will follow up directly with those individuals or with a group lead for that session.

Please save the date for the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup  April 11, 2015!

In 2014, 14,716 volunteers removed 288 tons trash and debris from the region at 670 cleanup sites throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Help AFF and many others break new records next year!


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Future Ocean Stewards Take the Trash Out

By: Grace Chon

As the new Marine Debris Pacific Islands Regional Assistant Coordinator, I bring the world of marine debris into classrooms to create a new awareness of how our lifestyles impact the ocean. This month, my journey started with first through fifth graders at the American Renaissance Academy and first graders at Trinity Christian School on Oahu, Hawai‘i.

The first question I asked each class was “What comes to mind when you think of the ocean?” and many students responded saying fish, honu (turtles), sharks, surfing, and fun! There is no doubt children in Hawai‘i like the ocean. I then asked,“How have humans impacted or affected the ocean?” and these children knew trash and nets were in the ocean and harming our wildlife. The missing link for these students is usually realizing the source of the trash – us.

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A mauka to makai (mountains to sea) connection is a common theme in Hawai‘i when teaching about our environment, and after hearing the presentation, students were able to see how their trash can end up in the ocean. They learned their everyday choices make a difference.

After the presentation, the students did several hands-on activities to help them better understand the problems marine debris creates. They pretended to be seals entangled in fishing nets and had to find a way to get free; used sieves to sift out microplastics from sand; explored the collection of marine debris we find on removal missions in Hawai‘i; and made marine debris magnets to remind them of how the daily choices they make impact our ocean.

Educating our next generation of ocean stewards is part of Hawaii’s Marine Debris Action Plan, and it’s an important piece to solving one of the biggest threats our oceans are facing today.


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The Final Count: 57 Tons of Marine Debris Now Out of the Monument

Two Marine Debris Program staffers are participating in NOAA’s annual mission to remove derelict nets and other marine debris from sensitive coral reefs and shorelines in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. An estimated 52 tons of derelict fishing gear washes up in the Monument each year, threatening the pristine ecosystem. Follow their journey.

By: Dianna Parker

Mission Log 10

We’re back on dry land after concluding our 33-day mission to remove marine debris from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii. The grand total of derelict fishing nets and plastics we recovered – after everything was weighed and counted – was 57 tons. We even removed an 11.5-ton “super net” from Pearl and Hermes Atoll that took several days to cut apart and pull out of the water.

Here are a few additional photos from the mission:

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I’ll be answering questions about the mission from 1-3 p.m. EST (5 pm UTC, 10 am PST)  in a Reddit Ask Me Anything today. Feel free to participate!

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