Caribbean Partners Trained to Prepare for and Respond to Marine Debris Emergencies with NOAA
MAY 15, 2023 — During the first week of May, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP), in collaboration with the U.S. EPA’s Trash Free Waters Program and The Nature Conservancy, supported two initiatives to improve preparedness and response to marine debris incidents in Puerto Rico.
On May 1, Scuba Dogs Society, a nonprofit partner based in Puerto Rico, worked with coastal community leaders and municipal responders to refine a marine debris response guide that will improve local coordination and communication during hurricane response. With this guide, the participants identified their particular challenges as well as available resources, staging areas, and key contacts to facilitate communication for an efficient response during hurricanes.
On May 2, the program coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to facilitate the training of local first responders on the different tools, techniques, and protocols to improve response to large-scale marine debris events. Nearly 40 people representing different sectors attended and shared information on how their respective organizations contribute to marine debris recovery efforts following a natural disaster, brainstormed actions to overcome response challenges, and discussed opportunities for increased collaboration. Within the multiple presentations from different agencies, the workshop included participation from staff across the Office of Response and Restoration, including remarks from MDP Director Nancy Wallace, a panel presentation focused on experiences with the Emergency Support Functions 3 and 10, and a tabletop exercise where participants reacted to hypothetical hurricane impacts and were trained in the use of the recently published (in Spanish and English) Puerto Rico Emergency Response Guide.
With the 2023 hurricane season approaching quickly in June, it is important to be prepared. These workshops provided necessary tools for coordinated efforts, while engaging different sectors that are vulnerable to marine debris in Puerto Rico. Please visit the Marine Debris Program Response page for more information on how to be hurricane ready.