Diver exploring an abandoned vessel. (NOAA)

Marine Debris

Marine debris is everyone's problem. Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world's ocean and waterways.

Since 2006, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has served as the U.S. Federal government's lead for addressing marine debris. Marine debris is a global problem, and it is an everyday problem. Although accumulations of debris, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are most famous, there is no part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy, and potentially human safety and health.

Most of all, marine debris is preventable. Learn more about marine debris and find out how to stop the problem at its source at the NOAA Marine Debris Program's website.

Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

Sunken, stranded, and decrepit vessels—especially those with oil still on board—can become hazards to navigation while also posing as significant pollution threats to sensitive marine and coastal habitats. OR&R is working on this issue in a variety of ways.

Over 80 Tons of Marine Debris Removed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

NOVEMBER 16, 2018 — Between September 18 and October 30, five NOAA offices and numerous partners collaborated on a marine debris removal mission in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that yielded over 80 tons of marine debris.

Is Marine Debris Spreading Invasive Species?

March 2, 2017 - Growing concern about increasing amounts of marine debris in our oceans has led scientists to research the potential for invasive species to hitch rides on debris to carry them to new areas across the globe. NOAA’s Marine Debris Program has a new report exploring the subject.

Debunking the Myths about Garbage Patches

Feb. 13, 2017 - This week we look at some common myths and misconceptions surrounding oil spills, chemical releases, and marine debris. We start by exploring the myth of ocean garbage patches.

Microplastics on National Park Beaches

June 30, 2017 - To investigate the number and distribution of microplastics on National Park beaches across the Unites States, researchers at Clemson University collaborated with the National Park Service to collect and analyze sand from 37 coastal National Parks.

How Marine Debris is Impacting Marine Animals

Aug. 9, 2017 -  This week, we look at the impacts of pollutants on wildlife and endangered species. We’ll explore tools we’ve developed to map sensitive species and habitats, how marine debris endangers marine life, how restoring toxic waste sites improves the health of wildlife, and the creation of a mobile wildlife hospital. Wildlife are impacted by marine debris in a variety of ways, read on to learn more.

8 Ways to Keep the Earth Clean

April 18, 2017 - Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program Earth Day is every day and we always are encouraging others to get involved and support efforts working toward a clean environment and healthy planet

Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

Sunken, stranded, and decrepit vessels—especially those with oil still on board—can become hazards to navigation while also posing as significant pollution threats to sensitive marine and coastal habitats. OR&R is working on this issue in a variety of ways.

Over 80 Tons of Marine Debris Removed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

NOVEMBER 16, 2018 — Between September 18 and October 30, five NOAA offices and numerous partners collaborated on a marine debris removal mission in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that yielded over 80 tons of marine debris.

Is Marine Debris Spreading Invasive Species?

March 2, 2017 - Growing concern about increasing amounts of marine debris in our oceans has led scientists to research the potential for invasive species to hitch rides on debris to carry them to new areas across the globe. NOAA’s Marine Debris Program has a new report exploring the subject.

Debunking the Myths about Garbage Patches

Feb. 13, 2017 - This week we look at some common myths and misconceptions surrounding oil spills, chemical releases, and marine debris. We start by exploring the myth of ocean garbage patches.

Microplastics on National Park Beaches

June 30, 2017 - To investigate the number and distribution of microplastics on National Park beaches across the Unites States, researchers at Clemson University collaborated with the National Park Service to collect and analyze sand from 37 coastal National Parks.

How Marine Debris is Impacting Marine Animals

Aug. 9, 2017 -  This week, we look at the impacts of pollutants on wildlife and endangered species. We’ll explore tools we’ve developed to map sensitive species and habitats, how marine debris endangers marine life, how restoring toxic waste sites improves the health of wildlife, and the creation of a mobile wildlife hospital. Wildlife are impacted by marine debris in a variety of ways, read on to learn more.

8 Ways to Keep the Earth Clean

April 18, 2017 - Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program Earth Day is every day and we always are encouraging others to get involved and support efforts working toward a clean environment and healthy planet