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Debris, rope, on a beach with ocean in background.
Reducing Marine Debris on our Shores

The NOAA Marine Debris Program, a division of the Office of Response and Restoration, leads national efforts to research, prevent, and reduce the impacts of marine debris.

Staff are positioned across the country and support marine debris projects in partnership with state and local agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry. The program also spearheads national research efforts and works to change behavior in the public through education and outreach initiatives.

Sinking ship in waterway.
Florida Incident Waterway Debris Response Guide

The NOAA Marine Debris Program completed the Florida Incident Waterway Debris Response Guide in 2016 to improve preparedness for response to and recovery from events like severe storms, floods, tsunamis, or maritime disasters that can result in a large influx of marine debris. This guide is the second completed in an ongoing effort by the NOAA Marine Debris Program to collaborate with local, state, and federal entities in coastal states in developing state-specific guidance documents for easy reference in the case of a severe marine debris event. The Florida Guide serves as a comprehensive reference for incident waterway debris response. It contains an outline of existing response structures and captures all relevant responsibilities and existing procedures in Florida. The guide is accompanied by a Field Reference Guide with pertinent quick reference information for in the field emergency response operations.

Trash on the sand.
NOAA Marine Debris Program’s 10 Year Anniversary

The NOAA Marine Debris Program marked ten years of combating marine debris in 2016. The program has accomplished much during this time, including activities ranging from supporting over 100 marine debris removal projects which have removed over 5,500 tons of debris, funding over 30 prevention projects and numerous research projects, and creating powerful education and outreach materials including curricula, displays, and award-winning outreach tools to help raise awareness about and prevent more marine debris. In this time period, the program has expanded nationwide to include ten regions, responded to four severe marine debris events, and has led the development of severe marine debris response plans and action plans across the country. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud of what it has accomplished over the last ten years and will continue to work towards the vision of a global ocean and its coasts free from the impacts of marine debris in the years to come.

Person pointing at trash on sand.
The Citizen Science Marine Debris Monitoring Toolbox

In 2016, the NOAA Marine Debris Program launched the “Get Started Toolbox” for the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP), the Marine Debris Program’s flagship citizen science initiative which engages partner organizations and volunteers across the nation to survey and record the amount and types of marine debris on shorelines. The Get Started Toolbox serves as a resource for current and new project participants and includes a tutorial series that covers the basics of the MDMAP, a collection of protocol documents and user guides, data analysis tools, a searchable photo gallery of marine debris items, answers to frequently asked questions, and even a quiz to test your marine debris monitoring knowledge. These resources aid participants in continuing their MDMAP monitoring efforts, which include over 188 regularly-surveyed sites throughout the country. The data collected through this program provides baseline data that can be used to guide marine debris policy development, education and outreach, and addresses important research questions.

2016 Accomplishments Report | Reducing Marine Debris