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The NOAA Marine Debris Program Awards Funding to 12 New Projects to Prevent Marine Debris

Prevention is the ultimate solution to marine debris. In order to tackle this pervasive problem, we must stop it at its source. Since 2013, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has offered an annual nationwide competitive funding opportunity to support projects focused on marine debris prevention through education and outreach. This year, after an intensive evaluation process, we are proud to announce the 12 recipients of our 2016 awards, totaling $684,264 of funding toward marine debris prevention efforts.

This year’s funded projects are:

  • Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, Inc. ($31,900) will add a national marine debris “Creative Advocacy” category to their annual Ocean Awareness Student Contest, which will challenge middle and high school students to design, implement, and assess marine debris education, outreach, and prevention projects in their schools and communities. Students will also have the chance to win a scholarship.
  • Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies ($86,512) will implement a zero-waste education and outreach campaign focused on promoting recycling and preventing single-use plastics and other land-based marine debris. The campaign will work with ten schools, local businesses, and communities throughout the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage in Alaska.
  • Hudson River Community Sailing, Inc. ($32,015) will implement an afterschool education and outreach program to inspire high school students to become stewards of the Hudson Estuary in New York City. The program will include education through marine debris curricula, field trips, cleanup activities, and the creation of a marine debris display to be installed at the Hudson River Park to educate the public about marine debris impacts and prevention.
  • One Cool Earth ($72,050) will implement marine debris education and student- and school-led solid waste management programs at 17 public schools in Paso Robles and Atascadero, California, to prevent land-based litter from entering the Pacific Ocean via the Salinas River.
  • Pacific Whale Foundation ($25,000) will implement a public awareness campaign on the island of Maui to educate the public about marine debris from tobacco products and about the statewide ban in Hawaii of smoking on public beaches and in parks.
  • Pan Isles Inc., Ship Island Excursions ($57,318) will provide teacher trainings on marine debris curriculum and enable teachers and their students to participate in field trips to West Ship Island in Gulfport, Mississippi, to conduct marine debris cleanups. In addition, high school students will be given summer internships to work with professional marine educators to teach the general public about marine debris aboard the West Ship Island ferry.
  • Sea Education Association, Inc. ($96,050) will utilize their current shipboard education program to teach students about marine debris and involve them in a local marine debris campaign in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Students will conduct research on plastic reduction campaigns and then design, implement, and evaluate a campaign to educate the local community about marine debris. The goal is to promote behavior changes to reduce the use of single-use plastic items.
  • Sea Turtle, Inc. ($22,565) will install a permanent, bilingual, and interactive display on marine debris in their educational facility on South Padre Island, Texas, and expand their marine debris education and outreach to include virtual, in-school, and field trip outreach sessions for elementary, middle, and high school groups. Sea Turtle, Inc. will also install educational signage at local jetties and lead community beach cleanups.
  • School District of the City of Erie, Pennsylvania ($50,434) will lead a district-wide education and outreach program that incorporates marine debris education and stewardship activities into existing curricula for 4th and 5th grade students to reduce land-based marine debris.
  • Trash Free Maryland ($80,000) will conduct research on littering behaviors and then use this research to develop and implement a multi-year social marketing campaign with the goal of reducing land-based litter in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • University of Georgia ($31,009) will engage 7th grade students and teachers through an educational program and monthly marine debris cleanups to prevent debris from impacting the coastal ecosystem in the Golden Isles of Georgia. They will also develop a short educational film to increase environmental stewardship in the Golden Isles community.
  • University of the Virgin Islands ($99,411) will modify an existing marine debris curriculum to make it more relevant to the issues in the U.S. Virgin Islands and will train teachers on the Island of St. Croix to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. The curriculum will include hands-on beach cleanup activities and the development of student-led projects such as the creation of art displays and public service announcements.

For more information on current and past prevention projects, visit the Marine Debris Clearinghouse or the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website.

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The NOAA Marine Debris Program Awards Funding to 14 New Projects to Remove Marine Debris

Although prevention is essential in stopping marine debris at its source, removing marine debris is unfortunately necessary to address all the debris that is already out there. The NOAA Marine Debris Program offers an annual nationwide competitive funding opportunity to support projects that focus on community-based marine debris removal. This year, after an intensive evaluation process, we are proud to announce the 14 recipients of our 2016 awards, totaling $1,123,523 of funding toward marine debris removal efforts.

This year’s funded projects are:

  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($36,112) will survey and map derelict crab traps in Upper Mobile Bay, Portersville Bay, Heron Bay, Weeks Bay, Wolf Bay, and Perdido Bay in Alabama, then will lead three volunteer derelict crab trap removal events to remove approximately 1,050 crab traps.
  • California State University Channel Islands ($99,928) will conduct monthly and quarterly marine debris shoreline accumulation surveys at mainland California and Channel Island beaches and will remove 19 tons of marine debris. The University will also implement an awareness campaign to prevent lobster pot loss and will conduct education and outreach with K-12 and undergraduate students.
  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Fish and Wildlife ($90,000) will work with local commercial crabbers to survey, map, and remove up to 2,000 derelict crab pots from coastal areas near Dover, on the Delaware side of Delaware Bay. Education and outreach with the recreational boating and crabbing communities will also be conducted to prevent future derelict fishing gear.
  • Douglas Indian Association ($33,812) will survey, map, and remove up to 400 derelict crab pots from the Gastineau Channel between Douglas Island and Juneau, Alaska.
  • Galveston Bay Foundation ($42,500) will remove six abandoned and derelict vessels and one large bundle of derelict pilings from Chocolate Bayou in Galveston Bay, Texas.
  • Hawaii Wildlife Fund ($85,000) will remove approximately 61 tons of marine debris through 35 large-scale community cleanup events and through 84 patrols for derelict fishing gear and large debris along remote stretches of coastline on Lānaʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui, and the island of Hawaii.
  • Marine Board, Oregon State ($55,000) will remove the 70-foot, 78-ton F/V Western, which sank in Coos Bay in 2015. They will also lead an Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Task Force to prevent future abandoned and derelict vessels and will develop an inventory of abandoned and derelict vessels along the Oregon coast.
  • New Jersey Audubon Society ($176,849) will survey, map, and remove approximately 2,000 derelict crab pots from the Cape May area of Delaware Bay, New Jersey’s southern coastal bays, and the Cape May artificial reef. They will also conduct outreach with local crabbers and the general public to prevent future derelict fishing gear.
  • North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality ($40,768) will conduct unmanned aerial surveys to identify and map medium and large marine debris items to prioritize for removal within the Rachel Carson Reserve component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. Approximately six tons of priority marine debris will be removed and adjacent habitat will be monitored for recovery.
  • Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies ($95,283) will work with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries as well as commercial and recreational fishermen to identity, remove, document, and properly dispose of approximately 17 tons of derelict fishing gear from Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay.
  • Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources ($66,672) will assess, map, and remove five 30- to 46-foot abandoned and derelict vessels in Fajardo Bay, Puerto Rico. The adjacent coral and seagrass habitats will then be monitored for recovery. Outreach with the boating community will also be conducted to educate boaters about how to prevent vessel groundings and derelict vessels.
  • Sitka Sound Science Center ($175,000) will work with teams of local, trained crew and volunteers to remove approximately 33 tons of marine debris from shorelines in and around the communities of Port Heiden, St. Paul, and Savoonga in the Bering Sea.
  • Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association ($90,000) will conduct maintenance and provide upgrades to the existing trash capture infrastructure in the Goat Canyon Sediment Basin of the U.S. portion of the Tijuana River. They will also lead two month-long community cleanup events to remove an estimated five tons of debris from surrounding natural habitats. Outreach regarding waste management and marine debris will be conducted with stakeholders in Mexico through binational communication.
  • University of Wisconsin Sea Grant ($36,599) will implement strategies to identify and locate derelict fishing nets for removal, including the development and distribution of derelict net marking kits for local anglers and the installation of sonar and video equipment on vessels. At least ten large nets totaling at least five tons will be removed from Lake Superior.

For more information on current and past removal projects, visit the Marine Debris Clearinghouse or the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website.

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Now Open: FY17 Marine Debris Research Grant Opportunity

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce our “Marine Debris Research” federal funding opportunity. This opportunity provides funding to support eligible organizations to conduct research directly related to marine debris through field, laboratory, and modeling experiments. Applicants requesting funding for research that explores the ecological risk associated with marine debris, determines debris exposure levels, and examines the fate and transport of marine debris in nearshore, coastal environments are welcome to apply. Projects may address one or more of these research priorities and should be original, hypothesis-driven projects that have not previously been addressed to scientific standards. To apply for this grant opportunity, visit

For more information about the program’s competitive federal funding opportunities, visit our website.

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Another Successful International Coastal Cleanup!

Thank you to all the volunteers that showed up and cleaned up at this year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on Saturday! This year’s event was another success due to the many volunteers that helped collect (literally) tons of trash!

This yearly event not only removes damaging marine debris from beaches and waterways around the globe, but also raises awareness of the important issue of marine debris. The data collected at each event is also used to discover what trash items are most problematic and most likely to become marine debris.

Check out some of the photos from this year’s event:

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Did you miss out on this year’s ICC and are sad that you didn’t get to participate? Don’t worry, not only will you get another chance next year, but there are many cleanups throughout the year and around the country that you can get involved with! Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter for a list of cleanups that are happening near you soon!

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Join Us This Saturday at the International Coastal Cleanup!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Want to get outside and help fight marine debris? Join this year’s International Coastal Cleanup this Saturday, September 17th!

Each year, the International Coastal Cleanup brings people together from around the globe to clean up marine debris in their local communities. Last year, nearly 800,000 volunteers participated from 93 countries, removing over 18 million pounds of debris! The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to partner with the Ocean Conservancy to support this effort.

Join us this year—find a location near you and sign up to clean up!

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2017 Marine Debris Calendars Are Now Available!

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce that our 2017 Marine Debris Calendar is available for download!

This year’s calendar features artwork from the 2016 “Keep the Sea Free of Debris” art contest winners. Our annual art contest aims to get kids thinking about how they can keep debris out of the ocean and the calendar serves as a daily reminder that we can all do our part to help! Keep your eye out in the coming weeks for information on this year’s contest.

Visit our website to download the 2017 Marine Debris Calendar or to learn how to request one of a limited number of hard copies!

Cover of the 2017 Marine Debris Calendar.

Download the 2017 Marine Debris Calendar on our website now! (Cover art by art contest winner Kathy R., Grade 8, California)

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Does Marine Debris Impact Sea Turtle Nesting?

By: Kimberly Albins, Gulf of Mexico Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Cape San Blas, a remote area in Northwest Florida that sits about 45 miles east of Panama City, is home to prime sea turtle nesting habitat. Unfortunately, erosion in this area began to cause a large amount of marine debris to litter its shores. Old concrete buildings, fencing material, pilings, and many other forms of debris could be found scattered within sea turtle nesting areas.

Metal fence on a beach.

Fencing material was found littering prime sea turtle nesting habitat on the shores of Cape San Blas. (Photo Credit: Dr. Ikuko Fujisaki)

In 2012, the University of Florida received funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant to remove these large debris items and assess the impact on sea turtles. To assess the impact of removing debris, observations were made on an experimental section of the beach where large debris had been removed. Recently, the project leads, Drs. Ikuko Fujisaki and Meg Lamont, published their findings from this assessment in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (check out the abstract here). As presented in their paper, they found that removing debris increased sea turtle nests by 200%! While many have assumed that debris on a beach would inhibit the ability of a sea turtle to find the appropriate place to nest, this research allows us to say “here is the proof!”

A loggerhead sea turtle nesting in Northwest Florida.

A loggerhead sea turtle can be seen nesting in Northwest Florida. (Photo Credit: Margaret Lamont)

As this study corroborates, sea turtles are particularly vulnerable to marine debris. They can ingest plastics, become entangled in debris such as derelict fishing gear, and we now know that their important nesting habitats are also impacted. It is unfortunately all too common for sea turtles to ingest plastic debris, and by working to remove debris and prevent more from occurring, we hope to change that.

Diamond-shaped holes in a plastic bag.

A photo by blog author Kim Albins shows a plastic bag found on a Texas beach. The diamond-shaped holes are turtle bites and are unfortunately an excellent example of plastic ingestion by sea turtles, a (sadly) very commonly-observed occurrence. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Like all of our Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant projects, removal of debris was just one aspect of this effort, which also worked to engage and educate citizens. Through the excellent work of the project leads along with grad students, interns, and volunteers that helped remove debris and educate citizens on the impact of marine debris on “Florida’s Forgotten Coastline,” this project:

  • removed 135.7 tons of large debris,
  • cleaned 95.9 km of beach area,
  • engaged 379 volunteers (donating 1,668 hours of time) in marine debris cleanups, and
  • reached 643 people through outreach events and classroom activities.

Keeping our beaches clean of debris will help sea turtles to thrive! The NOAA Marine Debris Program supports lots of projects that work to clean our shores, prevent more debris through education, and learn more about the marine debris issue. Do your part by picking up after yourself (every day!), following the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), and by participating in beach cleanup events!

For more on this project, check out the Marine Debris Clearinghouse. For more on what’s happening with marine debris in this region, visit the Gulf of Mexico regional page on our website.