NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

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Building Bins: Fishing Line Recycling in Ohio

By: Sarah Lowe

In the Great Lakes, fishing line is an entanglement hazard for wildlife.  This is especially true in areas such as the Maumee River in Ohio.  Each spring, thousands of fishermen brave the cooler temperatures to catch walleye (a popular recreational species of freshwater fish found in northern waters of the U.S.), which are migrating up from Lake Erie to spawn in the river.  Given the amount of line being used during this time, there is a large amount lost or discarded improperly.

In order to tackle this issue, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has provided support to Partners for Clean Streams (PCS), a local non-profit in Toledo, OH, to build and distribute mono-filament fishing line recycling bins. On February 18, I assisted PCS staff and volunteers in building 20 bins!  As part of the BoatUS Foundation Reel In and Recycle Program, these bins are created to allow fishermen an opportunity to recycle fishing line.  Once collected, the line is shipped to the Berkley Conservation Institute and repurposed into more line or other fishing products such as tackle boxes.  Look for a bin the next time you go fishing!

This project, like many in the region, are being highlighted to congressional staff as part of the Great Lakes Day this week in Washington, D.C. Great Lakes Day is an annual event hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and the Northeast-Midwest Institute to educate and convey a unified message to Congress on priorities for the region.

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Aboard the transoceanic invasive species mobile

NOAA Marine Debris Program:

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, and did you know that there’s the potential for invasive species to spread by hitching a ride on marine debris? A floating net, buoy, plastic container, or other piece of marine debris can harbor algae, mollusks, barnacles, crabs, or other species and transport them across the ocean to regions where they’re non-native. If the species is invasive, it can do serious damage to the ecosystem where the debris lands.

In some cases, natural disasters introduce items into the open ocean from coastal zones, such as small boats, floating docks and aquaculture gear (nets, cages, floats), that have been colonized by intertidal and shallow water organisms. After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, NOAA and its state partners focused on the potential for marine debris generated by the tsunami to bring non-native species to U.S shorelines.

Rebeka Ryvola, a Research Associate at the Ecologic Institute, described for us in this post how invasive species can be bad news for biodiversity. Take a look.

Marine organisms attach to chunks of trash like foamed plastic. Credit: Lindsey Hoshaw


Originally posted on NOAA's Marine Debris Blog:

By guest blogger Rebeka Ryvola, Ecologic Institute

When introduced into new environments, invasive species can be a major problem.  Invasives – species living in a certain area where they don’t belong – can harm the native species present or out-survive them and cause dramatic ecosystem changes. The changes are usually for the worse.

Humans are often unwittingly instrumental in helping these species infiltrate new territories, and we’re finding more and more evidence that marine debris is a culprit.

Invasive species stage their “invasions” in a number of ways. They can float through the air, travel by water currents, or cling to migrating animals. On land, species such as insects and plants can hitchhike by lurking in suitcases, in and on cars, on bicycles, and even on your clothing. Oceanic species – such as barnacles, mollusks, algae, and fish – can attach themselves to boats or stow away in ship ballast…

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2015 Art Contest Winners

Congratulations to our 2015 Keep the Sea Free of Debris art contest winners! This year, we received more than 600 entries from kindergarten to 8th-grade students with incredible visual messages on being the solution to ocean pollution. Winners of the 2015 art contest will be featured in our 2016 marine debris calendar to help raise awareness on the harmful impacts marine debris has on our oceans year-round.

Marine debris makes everyone “crabby” including 6th-grader Halie C., from South Carolina. Have a look at our 2015 Keep the Sea Free of Debris art contest winners!


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Santa Barbara Students Dive into Marine Debris

By: Asma Mahdi

Last month, 60 elementary school students gathered at Mission Creek Lagoon in Santa Barbara, California for what will ideally be their first step in becoming ocean stewards. The field trip kicked off Marine Debris, the Ocean, & Me, new partnership to prevent marine debris with the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Marine Debris, the Ocean, & Me focuses on teaching kids about how debris moves through watersheds and into the marine environment, with particular attention to litter found around the outflow of Mission Creek Lagoon. The kids get hands-on lessons in studying the debris they find there and determining impacts. High school students enrolled in the museum’s Quasars to Sea Stars program at the museum learn about marine debris through classroom instruction and get hands on experience through participating in a beach cleanup. The students apply their knowledge to develop classroom presentations and become teachers for a day on visits to local middle school classrooms.

Here are some photos of the event:

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Removing Debris from New York’s Jamaica Bay

By: Leah Henry

The American Littoral Society (ALS), as part of a Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, is removing debris from 22 acres of salt marsh, salt meadow, and mud flats with the help of 1,600 volunteers. These removal efforts aim to improve essential fish habitat and help prevent future marine debris accumulation.

In addition to removal efforts, ALS is developing more compelling ways to present the data they collect, creating a marine debris reduction outreach program for communities directly contributing to litter, and implementing a marine debris reduction certification program to incentivize debris reduction in local waterways.

Learn more about this effort on the MDP website.


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Plastic Debris on Georgia’s Beaches and Marshes: Recently Published Article on the Amounts and Accumulation Rates

By: Leah Henry

Numerous media and scientific reports note plastics washing up on coastal beaches and marshes and identify land-based activities as the source. And, in a recently published Marine Pollution Bulletin article, “The amount and accumulation rate of plastic debris on marshes and beaches on the Georgia coast,” by Dr. Richard Lee, a University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography Professor and Dodie Sanders, University of Georgia Marine Extension Educator, the accumulation of plastic was significant on both heavily trafficked and more remote beaches.

Georgia Coastal Project Site Map

Georgia Coastal Site Map(Credit: Anna Boyette)

For example, the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, which is often visited by thousands of day-visitors each year, had up to 81kg of plastic debris/month on its beaches while other, more remote, and much less frequented beaches also had significant plastic accumulation, indicating the importance of plastics carried from coastal and inland waters.

With funding provided by the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Prevention through Education and Outreach grant and Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative mini-grants, as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Incentive Grant, collected data was recently published in the scientific journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin.

In the article, Lee and Sanders suggest that “the most useful metric is weight per unit area since it allows comparison to the standing stock or accumulation rates reported by different groups in a variety of environments, e.g. marshes, beaches, rocky shorelines. The report also found that the major type of plastics, e.g. bottles, food wrappers, plastic fragments, was highly variable at different seasons and sites. “When storms or currents bring in a number of bottles in a particular month then there can be a large increase in plastics for that month, which would help to explain much of the high monthly variability in plastic collections noted in our study.”

To read the full article:

Lee, R.F., Sanders, D.P. The amount and accumulation rate of plastic debris on marshes and beaches on the Georgia coast. Mar. Pollut. Bull. (2014)


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