NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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Derelict Fishing Gear in the Pacific Northwest

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

To most residents and visitors in the Pacific Northwest, marine debris is what they see on the beautiful beaches of Oregon and Washington: items such as plastic consumer debris, commercial packaging, and even balloons. Luckily, agencies and NGOs including CoastSavers, Grassroots Garbage Gang,  Oregon SOLVE, and the Oregon Marine Debris Team have collaborated together and with the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) for years to prevent and remove this debris, much of it arriving from around the Pacific to the sparsely-populated Pacific Northwest coast. Another form of marine debris, derelict fishing gear, is less visible, but still harmful to the environment, commerce, and navigation. Derelict crab pots, shrimp traps, and lost nets and lines can entangle marine wildlife, harm the sea floor upon which they rest, pose a risk to navigation, and even threaten human safety.

Since its inception, the NOAA MDP has partnered with Pacific Northwest federal and state agencies, tribes, the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations, and academia to research, prevent, and remove derelict fishing gear. For instance, along the outer Washington coast, the MDP is working with The Nature Conservancy, whom has partnered with the Quinault Indian Nation, the Quileute Tribe, and Natural Resource Consultants to remove lost crab pots. If removal of the pot is impossible because it is buried too deep in the sand, the float line is cut and thus the entanglement hazard is eliminated. To focus on derelict nets in the Puget Sound, the MDP worked on  a multi-year removal project with the Northwest Straits Foundation, which removed over 5,000 derelict fishing nets, most of which were lost in the 1960’s and 70’s. Currently, the Northwest Straits Foundation is working with the MDP and fishermen to improve reporting of lost nets and remove them quickly. This project also developed short instructional videos for recreational fishermen, aimed at preventing crab pot loss in the first place.

Preventing derelict gear is the ultimate solution, and so the Fishing for Energy partnership has provided fishermen with reception bins to dispose of derelict fishing gear at no cost. In Oregon, Newport and Garibaldi have had bins for years, and recently a bin was placed in Westport, Washington. If not disposed of properly, derelict fishing nets can travel long distances and end up on remote and hard-to-access beaches. This is why providing a place to dispose of nets properly is so beneficial and if a net is lost, its prompt removal is very important. In Oregon, Oregon Surfrider and other organizations collaborate to respond to this type of removal need quickly.

Marine debris in all its forms is a big and growing global problem, and addressing it effectively requires good communication and collaboration on both a global and regional scale. In the Pacific Northwest, the recently-finalized Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan will contribute to reducing marine debris in Oregon, with a similar plan in the works for Washington. These documents will serve as guides to help Pacific Northwest marine debris stakeholders address marine debris effectively and collaboratively.


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Addressing Marine Debris in the Pacific Northwest: Harnessing the Power of Art

Like the rest of the country, the Pacific Northwest is unfortunately not immune to the impacts of marine debris. Luckily, there are many efforts in this region to address the marine debris issue, one of which focuses on the power of art.

Washed Ashore, an organization based in Oregon, works to prevent marine debris by raising awareness through art. After collecting debris on beaches and then cleaning and sorting it by color, the Washed Ashore group creates large and intricate sculptures made exclusively of marine debris. By building and displaying these sculptures, which mostly feature animals impacted by debris, this project aims to reach a broad audience to raise awareness of our connection to the debris issue and to inspire changes in our habits as consumers. Many of these sculptures now travel around the country as part of traveling exhibits, reaching broad audiences throughout the nation.

In 2014, Washed Ashore partnered with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to expand these efforts to achieve their ultimate goal of influencing behavior change. With support from a Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach grant, they worked to distribute educational materials at exhibit locations and develop a curriculum associated with their marine debris prevention through art model. Educator trainings helped to bring these activities and this message to classroom students.

The Washed Ashore Integrated Arts Marine Debris Curriculum was just recently released and works to educate students about marine debris, plastic use in our society, and how to prevent marine debris both individually and as a community. To view and download this marine debris curriculum, visit Washed Ashore’s website.

Keep your eye out this week for more in the Pacific Northwest!


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Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan Released

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Over the years, Oregon’s agencies, NGOs, and industry have done remarkable work to prevent and remove marine debris along the Oregon coast, rivers, and nearshore areas. In order to address marine debris in Oregon even more effectively, Oregon marine debris stakeholders got together to create the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan, and within a year, completed it.

The Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan, a collaborative effort of federal and state agencies, tribes, local governments, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry, is a compilation of recommended strategies and actions to prevent, research, and remove marine debris in Oregon. Bringing together the Oregon entities working on marine debris, the Plan will increase coordination and collaboration in executing on-going and future actions, and help track progress over time.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to have facilitated this effort, and grateful to all involved. We are happy to announce that the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan is now available on our website.

Cover of the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan.

Check out the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan!


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Join a Cleanup this Earth Day

Kids and a chaperone on a beach with reflective gear and bags of debris and a city in the background.

Join a cleanup near you this Earth Day! (Photo Credit: Stepping Out Stepping In)

It’s April and that means that Earth Day is right around the corner! This year, Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22nd, and it’s a great opportunity to join in the fight against marine debris and prevent trash from entering our ocean, waterways, and Great Lakes. There are lots of cleanup events happening on and around Earth Day; make sure you’re prepared by knowing what cleanups are happening in your area! Here are a few to get you started:

Alabama:

Date: April 15-22; Host: Alabama PALS; Location: throughout Alabama

 California:

Date: April 22; Host: California State Parks; Location: sites throughout California

 Date: April 22; Host: City of Oakland; Location: sites in Oakland, CA

Date: April 22; Host: I Love a Clean San Diego; Location: sites in San Diego County, CA

Date: April 22; Host: Save Our Shores; Location: sites in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, CA

 Connecticut:

Date: April 22; Host: Washington Environmental Council; Location: Washington, CT

Date: April 22; Host: Southwestern Area Health Education Center; Location: Short Beach Park, Stratford, CT

Date: April 22; Host: Keep Madison Clean; Location: Madison, CT

Date: April 22 & 23; Host: Norwalk River Watershed Association and Woodcock Nature Center; Location: sites in Norwalk, Ridgefield, and Wilton, CT

Delaware:

Date: April 22; Host: Town of Fenwick Island; Location: Fenwick Island Town Hall, DE

Date: April 22; Host: The Nature Conservancy; Location: sites in New Castle and Wilmington, DE

District of Columbia:

Date: April 22; Host: Anacostia Watershed Society; Location: sites in Washington, DC

Date: April 22; Host: Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Garden; Location: Washington, DC

 Florida:

Date: April 22; Host: Ocean Hour; Location: Park East and Park West, Pensacola Beach, FL

Georgia:

Date: April 23; Host: Tybee Clean Beach; Location: Tybee Island Marine Science Center, Tybee Island, GA

Hawaii:

Date: April 22; Host: Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii; Location: Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, Waimanalo, O’ahu, HI

Date: April 22; Host: Surfrider Kauai; Location: Nukoli’i, Kauai, HI

Date: April 22; Host: Friends of Kamalani & Lydgate Park; Location: Lydgate State Park, Lihue, Kauai, HI

Date: April 22; Host: Hawai’i Wildlife Fund; Location: sites on Maui and the Big Island, HI

Date: April 22 & 23; Host: 808 Cleanups; Location: sites in Kahuku and Kapolei, O’ahu, HI

Date: April 23; Host: Sharkastics; Location: Wailuku, Maui, HI

Illinois:

Date: April 22 & 23; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: sites in Chicago and Evanston, IL

Indiana:

Date: April 22; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: Michigan City and Chesterton, IN

Maine:

Date: April 21; Host: Wells Reserve; Location: Wells, ME

Date: April 22; Host: South Portland Land Trust; Location: Portland, ME

Date: April 22; Host: Maine Audubon; Location: Scarborough, ME

Date: April 22; Host: College of the Atlantic; Location: Bar Harbor, ME

Date: April 22; Host: Friends of Fort Knox; Location: Fort Knox State Historic Site, Prospect, ME

Maryland:

Date: April 22; Host: Anacostia Watershed Society; Location: sites in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, MD

 Date: April 22; Host: Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Location: Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, MD

 Massachusetts:

Date: April 22; Host: Green Roots; Location: Chelsea City Hall, Chelsea, MA

Michigan:

Date: April 22; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: sites in Norton Shores and Muskegon, MI

 New Jersey:

Date: April 22; Host: Clean Ocean Action; Location: sites across New Jersey

Date: April 22; Host: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Location: sites in Cape May, Maplewood, and Jersey City, NJ (and many more!)

Date: April 22; Host: Secaucus Environmental Department; Location: Mill Creek Marsh, Secaucus, NJ

Date: April 22; Host: WeCrab; Location: Stockton University Marine Field Station, Galloway, NJ

New York:

Date: April 22; Host: Gowanus Canal Conservancy; Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date: April 22; Host: Scenic Hudson; Location: Long Dock Park, Beacon, NY

Date: April 22; Host: Concerned Citizens of Montauk; Location: Kirk Park Beach, Montauk, NY

Date: April 22; Host: Keep Islip Clean; Location: Ross Memorial Park, Bay Shore, NY

Date: April 22; Host: Keep Rockland Beautiful; Location: sites in Rockland County, NY

Date: April 22 & 23; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: sites in Buffalo and Dunkirk, NY

Date: April 22 & 23; Host: NYC Parks; Location: sites in Staten Island and New York, NY

 North Carolina:

Date: April 22; Host: Keep Onslow Beautiful; Location: Deppe Park, Maysville, NC

Ohio:

Date: April 22; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: Timberlake, OH

Oregon:

Date: April 21-23; Host: SOLVE; Location: Portland, Coos Bay, and Seaside, OR (and many more!)

Pennsylvania:

Date: April 22; Host: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Location: sites across Pennsylvania

 Rhode Island:

Date: April 22; Host: Clean Ocean Access; Location: Cliff Walk, Newport, RI

Date: April 22; Host: Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council; Location: Merino Park, Providence, RI

Date: April 21-23; Host: Save the Bay; Location: sites in Warwick, Providence, and Newport, RI (and many more!)

Texas:

Date: April 22; Host: Texas Adopt-A-Beach; Location: Rockport Beach, South Padre Island, and Galveston Island, TX (and many more!)

Virginia:

Date: April 22; Host: Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority; Location: Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Arlington, VA

Date: April 22; Host: Surfrider Virginia Beach; Location: Lake Holly, Virginia Beach, VA

 Washington:

Date: April 21; Host: Surfrider Seattle; Location: Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, WA

Date: April 22; Host: Duwamish Alive! Coalition; Location: sites on the Duwamish River, WA

Wisconsin:

Date: April 22; Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach; Location: sites in Racine, Milwaukee, amd Manitowoc, WI

Don’t see a cleanup close to you? Keep an eye on our blog and website for updates closer to Earth Day or start one yourself—gather some friends, grab some gloves and bags, and clean up your area (please remember, safety first)!


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April Showers Bring… Marine Debris

Graphic of rain washing debris from a city to the sea.

April can bring more than just showers. Those rains can lead to an increased amount of marine debris. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

You’re likely familiar with the phrase “April showers bring May flowers.” April is often associated with rainy and wet weather, but unfortunately it doesn’t just bring flowers, it also brings marine debris. With rains and melting snow and ice, trash that has found its way to our streets, storm drains, shorelines, etc. is flushed out into our ocean, Great Lakes, and waterways. Some of this trash may have even been trapped within the snow for months before being swept away with melting runoff.

So what do we do about this springtime debris? We can work to pick up this trash before April showers have a chance to wash it into our nearby waters! If you haven’t already, subscribe to our e-newsletter, which lists cleanup events happening around the country each month. Earth Day is coming up, and with it, many cleanup opportunities (keep an eye on our blog for more soon)! If you can’t find a cleanup near you, start one yourself! Gather some friends and clean up your community (remember, safety first!). Most importantly, we can all help to prevent more debris from finding its way into our environment. Spread the word about this problem and remember the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle!) every day!


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Congratulations to Our 2017 Art Contest Winners!

It’s that time of year—time to announce the winners of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Annual Art Contest! We had hundreds of impressive entries this year and although we wish we could showcase them all, we are excited to share this year’s winners with you:

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The NOAA Marine Debris Program holds this annual art contest to reach K-8 students and help raise awareness about marine debris, one of the most significant problems our ocean faces today. The resulting calendar, featuring the winning artwork, will help to remind us every day how important it is for us to be responsible stewards of the ocean. This year’s winners will be featured in our 2018 calendar, available later this year.

Thank you to all the students and schools that participated in this year’s contest, and congratulations to all of our winners!


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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!