NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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Ten Years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program: 2016

The NOAA Marine Debris Program 10 year anniversary identity marker.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the NOAA Marine Debris Program and we have been celebrating throughout the year! As part of our celebration, we’ve been looking back on our accomplishments over the years (check out our timeline for a review of the past decade!). Let’s look back on 2016:

 

2016:

This past year was a special one for the NOAA Marine Debris Program—it marked our ten-year anniversary. As you’ve likely seen on our blog and website, we’ve been celebrating throughout the past year (if you missed it, check out our related blog posts). This has also been a chance for us to reflect on our work over the past decade and look to the future. This reflection was timely, as 2016 was also the first year under our new Strategic Plan. This plan will lead us into the future and help us to succeed in continuing to combat marine debris in the coming years. We want to make sure we’re strategic about our future priorities so that we can most effectively address the marine debris problem.

Cover of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Strategic Plan is meant to guide our future priorities so we can best address marine debris. (Credit: NOAA)

This year also saw the release of our “Get Started Toolbox” to guide those participating in our Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP). The MDMAP is our flagship citizen science initiative that engages partner organizations and volunteers across the nation in completing shoreline marine debris surveys. The Toolbox serves as a resource for current and new participants, answering questions about the MDMAP and serving as a “one-stop shop” for all the resources that participants may need.

The “Ecological and Economic Effects of Derelict Fishing Gear in the Chesapeake Bay Assessment Report” was also released this past year. This report was the result of a research project that looked at the impact of derelict crab pots throughout the Chespeake Bay. The project estimated where derelict pot concentrations are highest along with the impact of derelict gear removal programs. A “Guiding Framework” for derelict fishing gear assessments was also released, which can be applied to other fisheries and/or regions interested in conducting similar studies.

Cover of the Chespeake Bay derelict crab pot assessment report.

The Chespeake Bay derelict crab pot assessment report is a useful tool for learning more about the effects of derelict gear. (Credit: CSS-Dynamac, Inc.; Versar, Inc.; Virginia Institute of Marine Science; and Global Science & Technology, Inc.)

The NOAA Marine Debris Program accomplished a lot over this past year, and even more over the past decade. We would like to thank you for celebrating with us throughout 2016 and for your interest in marine debris! Having readers like you that care and make an effort be a part of the solution—be it joining a cleanup or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store—makes us proud and is essential to addressing our marine debris problem. Stay tuned next week for our final blog celebrating our ten-year anniversary and continue to check out our blog and website for more marine debris information throughout the year and into the next decade!


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Ten Years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program: 2015

The NOAA Marine Debris Program 10 year anniversary identity marker.

This year marks the ten year anniversary of the NOAA Marine Debris Program and we will be celebrating throughout the year! As part of our celebration, we will be looking back on our accomplishments over the years (check out our timeline for a review of the past decade!). Let’s take a look back to 2015:

 

2015:

Last year was another busy one for the NOAA Marine Debris Program. We expanded our international presence by contributing to marine debris prevention, reduction, and research efforts at the G7 summit and became the Chair of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter. Coordinating marine debris efforts on a global scale is important to addressing the problem, and we value these connections.

Graphic of the world with debris making up the ocean.

Marine debris is a global problem, so coordinating marine debris efforts on a global scale is important to addressing the problem. (Credit: NOAA)

We also continued to focus on the homefront and released the Alabama Incident Waterway Debris Response Plan and Field Guide. This was the first response plan that followed the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s newly-established response plan process. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is facilitating these planning efforts in coastal states to improve preparedness for responding to and recovering from debris events like severe storms or floods. These efforts work to outline existing response structures at the local, state, and federal levels, capturing all relevant responsibilities and existing procedures into a guidance document for easy reference in each state. The Alabama Plan has since been followed by similar plans for Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Damaged Vessels in Alabama.

Established response guides will help state and local officials, along with federal partners, respond to acute marine debris incidents in coastal states. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

In 2015 we also released our mini-documentary, TRASH TALK! This 15-minute video can be broken down into 2-minute segments that talk about what marine debris is, where it comes from, its impacts, why plastic debris is so common, what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, and what we can do about it. Using animation as well as live-action video and photos, TRASH TALK describes marine debris in an engaging and easy-to-understand way, making it an excellent educational tool. The full-length feature went on to win a Regional Emmy® Award this past year!

Still image of TRASH TALK video with Emmy statuette.

TRASH TALK reviews marine debris in an engaging and easy-to-understand way, making it an excellent tool to learn about marine debris! (Photo Credit: NOAA; Emmy® statuette © NATAS/ Television Academy)

For more on what the NOAA Marine Debris Program was up to in 2015, check out our timeline and continue to keep an eye on our blog to learn more about the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s accomplishments over the past decade!


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Corals and Marine Debris

Corals week logo.

Coral reefs are diverse and important marine ecosystems, supporting a wide array of marine life. Not only do they provide essential structure for habitats, but corals themselves are a unique and beautiful type of animal. However, these animals are also very delicate and are under threat by a preventable problem: marine debris. Debris can damage these sensitive reef habitats, crushing or smothering the corals that make them up. Derelict fishing gear, or fishing gear that has been lost or abandoned, can be especially harmful.

Luckily, this is a completely preventable problem and we can all help to reduce these impacts! Remember your “3Rs” (reduce, reuse, recycle) to minimize your contribution to marine debris. Make sure you’re responsible with your trash and when fishing, make sure none of your gear gets left behind. If you don’t know how to properly use your gear or dispose of your trash, educate yourself! By working to increase our own awareness of the issue and educating others about how they can help, we can prevent more trash and worn-out fishing gear from becoming marine debris. For the debris that’s already out there, participating in cleanup efforts can help stop it from further damaging sensitive habitats and harming wildlife.

Don’t forget, we created the problem and we can all be part of the solution! Debris from inland sources can travel far and can still become marine debris, so just because you don’t live near the shore or near a beautiful coral reef doesn’t mean that you can’t help! Let’s all do our part to keep our ocean beautiful.

 


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South Carolina Incident Waterway Debris Response: A New Comprehensive Guide for the State

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is proud to announce the release of the new Incident Waterway Debris Response document for South Carolina! This guide takes existing roles and authorities, as they relate to response to an incident that generates large amounts of debris in coastal waterways, and presents them in one guidance document for easy reference. By collaborating with local, state, and federal entities active in the region, this guide aims to facilitate a more timely and effective response to waterway debris incidents in South Carolina.

Check out the South Carolina Response Guide on our website!

Cover of the South Carolina Incident Waterway Debris Response Guide.


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This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for Our Ocean and We Hope You Are Too!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we’re taking time to think about what we’re thankful for. Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we’re thankful for our many partners that help us to address marine debris! We’re also thankful for people like you who care about this issue and do what you can to help! Every person who chooses to recycle what they can, or who brings a reusable bag to the grocery store—we’re thankful for you!

We’re also thankful for our ocean and Great Lakes and we hope you are too! So, this Thanksgiving, think how about how you can help to keep your holiday green. When you’re doing some of that last-minute grocery shopping, take reusable bags with you and consider getting bulk ingredients or items with minimal packaging. For the main event, it’s the type of occasion to get out the nice plates and silverware. By using reusable cups, plates and utensils, you’re helping to reduce your use of single-use items. For the items that do need to be tossed at the end of the day, don’t forget to recycle what you can. If we all continue to do our part, maybe next year we can be thankful for a cleaner ocean.

Happy Thanksgiving from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!

A drawing of a turkey recycling.


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Get Crafty & Don’t Forget to Enter the Marine Debris Program Art Contest!

The end of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest is drawing near, but there’s still time to enter! If you know a student in kindergarten through eighth grade, encourage them to take some time this Thanksgiving break to get creative—craft a piece of art that answers these questions:

  • How does marine debris impact the oceans and Great Lakes?
  • What are you doing to help prevent marine debris?

Entries must be postmarked by November 30th, so get those art supplies ready and get crafty! Check out our website for more information.

Art contest flyer.

This year’s NOAA Marine Debris Program Annual Art Contest runs from October 17th through November 30th. Check out our website for more information!


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Ten Years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program: 2014

The NOAA Marine Debris Program 10 year anniversary identity marker.

This year marks the ten year anniversary of the NOAA Marine Debris Program and we will be celebrating throughout the year! As part of our celebration, we will be looking back on our accomplishments over the years (check out our timeline for a review of the past decade!). Let’s take a look back to 2014:

 

2014:

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) was hard at work on a number of fronts during 2014. One area where we saw great strides was in our regional planning efforts. With coordination from the MDP, the Great Lakes marine debris community became the second region (after Hawaii) to have a marine debris action plan—“The Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan.” This plan provides a roadmap for partners in the region to address marine debris. In addition, 2014 saw marine debris response planning begin in the Southeast and Florida.

Another important milestone in 2014 was the MDP’s release of the Southern California Economics Study, which showed the impacts of marine debris on tourism, specifically in Orange County, CA. This assessment quantified how much a coastal community could lose in revenue from tourists avoiding littered beaches. However, it also found that reducing debris could prevent those financial losses.

Infographic showing that tourism revenue increases with beaches with less debris.

The Southern California Economics Study was released in 2014. (Credit: NOAA)

The MDP was also focused on learning as much as we could about marine debris in 2014. We funded three research projects which focused on microplastics in the Gulf of Alaska, debris accumulation in the Gulf of Mexico, and microplastic ingestion by fish associated with brown algae in the Gulf of Mexico. Keep your eye on our blog in the coming months for results as many of our research projects are wrapping up. We use the results of research studies to better address marine debris and are always looking to learn more, so this year we’re offering a research grant once again!

Keep an eye on our blog throughout the year to learn about more of the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s accomplishments over the past decade.