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Marine Debris Program Talks Microplastics at the Plastic Pollution Summit in Charleston, SC

APRIL 14, 2017--On March 30, Marine Debris Program (MDP) Chief, Nancy Wallace and Southeast Regional Coordinator, Sarah Latshaw, attended the Plastic Pollution Summit - Breaking Down Plastic in Charleston, SC.

This event was held by the South Carolina Aquarium, in partnership with the 5 Gyres Institute and the Lonely Whale Foundation, and born out of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, a consortium of Aquariums in the US focused on finding solutions to the challenges facing ocean health. With over 10 million people visiting aquariums in the Conservation Partnership each year, these aquariums intend to use their education platforms to effectively address plastic pollution challenges.

Over 500 local, national, and international representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organization, industry, academia, and the public attended the one day summit to discuss solutions to plastic pollution. The summit included speakers who have successfully implemented solutions to reduce plastics, panel sessions ranging from human health concerns related to plastic pollution to engaging citizen scientists, and a Plastic Solution Pavillion with exhibitors featuring their conservation initiatives. One innovative speaker, Keith Mask, Vice President of Environmental Sustainability for Cox Enterprises, explained how they are a zero waste company, and will soon become carbon and water neutral. During the Government Vanguards of the Aquatic Debris Movement panel session, Sarah Latshaw was joined by panelists from the Environmental Protection Agency, US Army, and South Carolina Coastal Zone Program, who all spoke about their respective agencies’ efforts to prevent marine debris. Organizers also engaged students by holding a youth summit that allowed students to attend in person or via live stream from their classrooms.

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Panel sitting in front of a screen address an audience.
Panel session on the correlations between human and environmental health. Image credit: NOAA.