What is marine debris?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines marine debris as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment. This includes trash of all shapes, sizes, and material. Marine debris adversely impacts the world’s oceans and waterways as well as the wildlife living there.
How does it get there?
Marine debris can come from land-based sources surrounding our waterways. Trash can enter the watershed by way of littering, mismanagement of waste, or illegal dumping. Debris can travel throughout the watershed, down storm drains, into creeks, and eventually to the ocean. Ocean-based sources like cargo ships and fishing boats often contribute to the debris in the marine environment as well. Derelict fishing gear or fallen cargo become debris when left behind or lost in the ocean.
What can you do?
Everyone can help prevent marine debris! Here are some ideas of how you can take action, learn more, and raise awareness:
Did you know?
- 1,129,332 pounds of trash were collected in one day at the 2014 California Coastal Cleanup
- The top 3 items found on beaches were cigarette butts, food wrappers, and beverage containers
- Reducing marine debris on beaches can prevent financial loss to the county and provide economic benefits to residents. Read more about this study here.
Marine debris prevention resources: