NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan Released

Working closely with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coastal Management Program and numerous other Florida marine debris stakeholders, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to have been involved in the recent creation of the Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan. This Plan, which is a compilation of recommended strategies and actions toward reducing the impacts and amount of marine debris in Florida, is the result of multiple years of collaboration between stakeholders including federal and state agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, universities, and industry. Moving into the future, the Plan will act as a guide to measure progress toward addressing the marine debris problem in Florida.

We are happy to announce that the Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan is now available on our website and on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website.

Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan

Check out the Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan!


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Marine Debris as a Potential Pathway for Invasive Species: A New MDP Report

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is proud to announce the release of our new report detailing the potential of marine debris to act as a pathway for the introduction of invasive species.

There is mounting concern over the increase in debris in our ocean and the potential for that debris to assist in the spread of non-native species. While the pathways associated with global shipping draw the greatest amount of attention regarding marine invasives, the purpose of this paper is to consider the potential role that marine debris may play in introducing non-native species that may become invasive. This report reviews the scientific literature that exists on the subject and identifies areas where more research is needed.

Check out the new invasive species report, which joins our reports on entanglement, ingestion, ghost fishing, modeling, and habitat on our website.

Cover of Marine Debris as a Potential Pathway for Invasive Species report.


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Mississippi Marine Debris Emergency Response: A New Comprehensive Guide for the State

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is proud to announce the release of the new Marine Debris Emergency Response document for Mississippi! 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 marine debris incidents in Mississippi.

Check out the Mississippi Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide on our website!

Cover of the Mississippi Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide.


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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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NOAA Marine Debris Program Releases 2016 Accomplishments Report

By: Nancy Wallace, Director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program

This year has been a busy one for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, and it was particularly special, as 2016 marked our ten-year anniversary. Looking back on the last decade, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and how much we’ve grown both in size and impact. This past year also marked the first under our most recent Strategic Plan. Following this ambitious guide, we have worked toward making our vision— an end to marine debris— a reality.

I am proud of the Program’s achievements to address marine debris and although we still have a lot of work to do, I am confident in our direction for the future, learning from the past decade of excellent marine debris work. With that, I am pleased to present the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s 2016 Accomplishments Report, which highlights some of our major accomplishments over the past fiscal year.

Cover of 2016 Accomplishments Report.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is happy to announce the release of our Fiscal Year 2016 Accomplishments Report.


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North 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 North 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 North Carolina.

Check out the North Carolina Response Guide on our website!

Cover of the North Carolina Incident Waterway Debris Response Guide.


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Responding to Marine Debris Incidents: MDP Guides

Unfortunately, incidents that cause marine debris are an unavoidable part of life. Events like severe storms, floods, tsunamis, or maritime disasters can all result in a large influx of debris. To improve preparedness for response to and recovery from such events, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is facilitating planning efforts in coastal states. These efforts work to outline existing response structures at the local, state, and federal levels, capturing all relevant responsibilities and existing procedures into one guidance document for easy reference. The process first includes the development of the guidance document, followed by drills to test response effectiveness, and finally, supporting the integration of this information into other existing response plans.

Derelict vessels washed up on the shore.

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)

It is a highly collaborative effort, with input from local, state, and federal entities active in the region. The creation of these documents, which are fluid documents that are regularly updated, aims to facilitate a more timely and effective response to waterway debris incidents in our coastal states. Check out the response guides that are currently available:

  • Florida Incident Waterway Debris Response Guide: This guide is our most recent completed effort and was just uploaded to our website earlier this month!
  • Alabama Incident Waterway Debris Response Plan: This plan was our first completed plan following our newly-established response plan process. It was completed in May 2015 and updated in April 2016.
  • West Coast Efforts: The 2011 tsunami in Japan was a natural disaster that resulted in many lives lost, property damaged or destroyed, and a large amount of debris introduced into the ocean. Pacific states began to see some of this debris washing up on their shores, prompting the creation of response plans. The NOAA Marine Debris Program worked in close collaboration with partners in the development of these plans. These efforts resulted in response plans for Washington (modified in 2015 to be more relevant for events outside debris from the 2011 tsunami), Oregon, and California, as well as a Marine Debris and Severe Marine Debris Event section in the Northwest Area Contingency Plan, and provided a model for our current response efforts.

It is important for local, state, and federal agencies within each coastal state to be prepared to respond efficiently and effectively in the event of an acute marine debris incident, including a severe marine debris event. It is our hope that with these regional response guides in place, the impact of debris associated with these events can be mitigated as much as possible.

This is an ongoing effort and the guide for North Carolina is coming soon! The process has also begun in Mississippi and South Carolina, with more on the horizon. For more information on our response planning efforts and to access the available guidance documents, visit our website.