NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

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Bringing Marine Debris to Attention: NOAA Administrator and Congressional Members Meet with MDP Partners

This past Friday, April 8th, was an exciting day for those fighting marine debris in Washington State. NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, and representatives from the offices of Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell joined the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) at a marine debris event in Long Beach, Washington. The event highlighted the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s ten-year anniversary, the five-year commemoration of the 2011 Japan tsunami, and the efforts of the MDP’s partners in Washington State against marine debris. The National Weather Service also participated in the event, highlighting the efforts to make Long Beach “Tsunami Ready.”

Local volunteers, as well as representatives from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Quinault Indian Nation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Grassroots Garbage Gang provided presentations on their efforts to address marine debris.

Dr. Sullivan, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, Bryan Stebbins (Southwest Washington Representative for Senator Patty Murray), and Dena Horton (Southwest Washington Outreach Director for Senator Maria Cantwell) spoke on the subject of marine debris and were able to learn a little more about the local problem by engaging with the many marine debris partners and volunteers in attendance.

The event culminated in a small-group cleanup at the local beach.

Bringing attention to this important subject is part of the ultimate solution to prevent marine debris and events such as this help to do that. We’d like to thank our partners for participating in this event and highlighting their efforts to combat marine debris in Washington State. For more information about this event, check out this article.


Fishing for Energy Partnership Announces Grants to Support Marine Debris Prevention

Earlier today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced this year’s grant awards from the Fishing for Energy Partnership. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is happy to be part of this collaboration, along with the NFWF and Covanta, to support the fifth round of grant awards, totaling more than $263,000.

The Fishing for Energy Partnership was launched in 2008 and works to reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear in U.S. waters by offering commercial fishermen a no-cost opportunity to dispose of old, lost or unusable fishing gear. This gear is then recycled and processed to generate electricity at Covanta Energy-from-Waste facilities. The mission is to reduce the adverse economic and environmental impacts of derelict fishing gear.

This year’s grant awards support projects to help commercial and recreational fishermen and boaters reduce the amount of fishing gear lost in the marine environment. The 2015 Fishing for Energy Partnership grants include:

Engaging Recreational Boaters in the Prevention of Commercial Fixed Gear Debris
The Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water
Fishing for Energy Grant: $105,699 | Grantee Contributions: $140,580
Educate recreational boaters nationwide about specific means of preventing boat entanglement with fixed fishing gear and provide best practices to explain how to responsibly respond when entanglements do occur. Project will explore the user conflict between recreational boaters and fishermen and develop effective practices and messages to enhance debris prevention efforts through formal and informal boater education.

Reducing Derelict Crab Trap Generation in South Carolina through Engagement of Recreational Boaters and Commercial Crabbers
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Fishing for Energy Grant: $49,324 | Grantee Contributions: $19,241
Characterize crab trap float losses in South Carolina as a result of vessel strikes and engineer solutions to reduce the rate of annual derelict fishing gear accrual. Project will engage both recreational boaters and commercial crabbers to reduce the probability of severing crab trap floats when a boat collision cannot be avoided.

Reducing Derelict Gear through Educational Tools for Recreational Pot Fishermen in New England
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Fishing for Energy Grant: $41,344 | Grantee Contributions: $3,663
Create a series of educational videos for recreational pot fishermen in New England. Project will demonstrate Best Management Practices for recreational fishermen and provide the education tools needed to reduce the incidence of derelict fishing gear.

Development of Side‐scan Sonar Methodology to Survey Derelict Lobster Pots in Sandy and Rocky Habitats in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Fishing for Energy Grant: $66,722 | Grantee Contributions: $10,672
Estimate derelict lobster pot density in Western Cape Cod Bay, Mass., using a full coverage side-scan sonar pilot survey. Project will develop a derelict lobster pot detection rate by using side-scan sonar on a known number of pots over both featureless and complex habitats.

To see the NFWF’s full press release, click here.

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Back to School: Planning a Marine Debris Lesson with New Curriculum

By: Leah Henry

In need of new curriculum? Check out the web-based Marine Debris STEAMSS* (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Social Studies) curriculum developed by Oregon State University and funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. It provides data to collect and analyze types of debris, addresses marine debris problems through engineering, uses technology and art to explore the problem, and is appropriate for 4th through 12th grade students.

Marine Debris STEAMSS Online Lessons

This free and teacher-tested marine debris education resource meets educational standards and the needs of educators and students.

To begin your marine debris lesson plan start here: OSU STEM Hub

*Please note that the curriculum will continue to be updated overtime.


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Back to School: Marine Debris Activities and Videos

By: Leah Henry

Welcome back your students to the classroom with new materials, fun activities, and marine debris related lessons. The NOAA Marine Debris Program provides free and downloadable marine debris resources to address a subject of critical interest to educators and students. You can build a lesson plan using marine debris activities and curricula this upcoming school year!

You can launch a lesson with a fun activity or video; watch the TRASH TALK Webinar for Educators to get started. This informative ten minute webinar provides fun activities that anyone can do. The video demonstrates hands-on activities one can easily organize after viewing a TALKING TRASH video. This pairing is perfect for museums, zoos, aquariums, learning centers and schools. Be sure to check the activities section beneath the video for written-guidance on activities and additional TRASH TALK videos.

Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for marine debris education throughout the week!




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Marine Debris: In Your Region

By: Leah Henry

When you think of marine debris or ocean litter, is the first thing that comes to mind post-consumer waste,  lost fishing gear, or maybe abandoned and derelict vessels? The NOAA Marine Debris Program understands that issues and interest surrounding marine debris varies from region to region.

To learn more about current region and state specific marine debris projects and activities, click on In Your Region within our recently updated NOAA Marine Debris Program website ( and pick a region on the interactive map.

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Mid-Atlantic Region: Marine Debris Research

By: Leah Henry

The NOAA Marine Debris Program has been working to better understand the impacts of derelict fishing gear and other types of marine debris to our ocean and Great Lakes, here are a few of our Mid-Atlantic marine debris research efforts:

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center evaluates existing crab pot bycatch reduction technology, solicits technology feedback from local watermen, and creates a Chesapeake Bay-wide conversation to develop ghost pot solutions as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy program and with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.  To learn more about this project visit our website.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science employs commercial watermen to compare catch rates of peeler pots outfitted with biodegradable escape panels to those with standard panels as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy program and with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Preliminary results suggest no adverse effect of biodegradable panels on peeler pot crab catch. To learn more about this project visit our website.

Global Science & Technology Inc. contracts with the NOAA Marine Debris Program in partnership with Versar, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and CSS-Dynamac to investigate the physical, biological, and socio-economic impacts of derelict fishing gear (DFG) in the Chesapeake Bay through a Regional Impact Assessment.  This project will develop an operational model, conduct a bay-wide impact assessment of derelict fishing gear, and create a framework guidance document for use in other regions. To learn more about this project visit our website.

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27th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup – April 11, 2015

By: Leah Henry

On Saturday, April 11, the Alice Ferguson Foundation will host the 27th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, the largest regional event of its kind. The cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change. Over the last 26 years, this event has removed 7 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River watershed with the help of 150,000 volunteers.

Roughly 15,000 volunteers in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia will head out to over 500 sites to cleanup our communities and waterways. We hope you are one of them! Learn more and volunteer at With your help, we can create clean land, safe water, and healthy lives with a trash-free Potomac watershed.

27th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup (April 11 2015)

If you are in the region, find a cleanup near you! And if you plan to posting to social media use #PotomacCleanup and reference: @AliceFerguson (Twitter) and @AliceFergusonFoundation (Instagram).

Results from Last Year’s Potomac River Watershed Cleanup:

  • 671 sites
  • 14,766 volunteers
  • 288 tons of trash collected (576,000 pounds) including; 211,000 beverage containers,  18,600 cigarettes, 3,560 plastic bags, and 1,288 tires

Take the time. Take part. Take action.

And if you are unable to make it out, visit the Site Leader Center for more information to start a cleanup site near you, or visit the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Earth day cleanup on April 25!