By: Marine Debris Program staff
With the New Year approaching fast, we thought we’d take a look back at 2014 and make new resolutions for 2015. It’s been a great year for the Marine Debris Program, and we hope it has been great for you too.
Around this time last year, our office resolved to help others stop littering. In 2014, we went out and partnered with 10 new groups on prevention through education and outreach efforts, ranging from a campaign against mass balloon releases to outreach to teenage litterers. Those projects are now in full swing, along with some other great efforts we launched with partners the year before.
We also did some work picking up marine debris, continuing our community-based marine debris removal grants with 11 new projects and working with states to clean up and remove disaster debris from Superstorm Sandy and the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan. NOAA also removed 57 tons of derelict nets and plastic from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, a World Heritage site and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.
We released the first-ever marine debris action plan for the Great Lakes, an economic study on how much beach litter costs Californians each year, a study on derelict fishing traps, and two state-of-science reports on ingestion and entanglement.
Our 2014 accomplishments report gives a more in-depth overview of all the hard work that’s gone on this year, but throughout Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Islands, California, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Caribbean, and the East Coast, we estimate that we removed nearly 250,000 pounds of debris, reached about 12,600 students, and engaged 168 teachers. That just scratches the surface of all the great work that’s happened, largely thanks to our partners.
This year, we resolve to do even better than last year in preventing marine debris and cleaning it up out of our ocean. As our colleagues in the Office of Response and Restoration wrote, “As much as we wish it were so, we realize oil and chemical spills, vessel groundings, and marine debris will not disappear from the ocean and coasts in the next year.” There is still much work to do, but the 2015 outlook is bright.
(P.S. – If you head out for one last celebration, don’t forget to first read over our tips for reducing holiday waste.)