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Plastic Marine Debris Takes the Spotlight on the National Mall

JUNE 8, 2018 — On June 4, staff from the Office of Response and Restoration participated in the opening ceremony of the Ocean Plastics Lab, an international travelling exhibit, composed of four shipping containers converted into an outdoor and interactive display.

Man speaking against a backdrop of a display of trash.
RDML Tim Gallaudet speaks at the opening ceremony about his personal connections to the ocean. Image credit: NOAA.

This exhibit was created by the German Marine Research Consortium and is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Commission. It began its tour of marine debris outreach last year in Turin, Italy, and it is now open to the public on the National Mall in Washington, DC. NOAA is among the U.S. sponsors and participants, and the Lab features the NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App. The app serves as an easy to use and simple tool for marine debris data collection. The exhibit is designed to teach the public about the role of science and technology in understanding and addressing the problem of plastic marine debris.

RDML Tim Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, spoke at the ceremony, describing NOAA’s role to combat marine debris, and sharing his personal love for our ocean. Dr. Russell Callender, Assistant Administrator for the National Ocean Service, was also in attendance. Following the ceremony, partner organizations signed the “golden wall” and toured the exhibition, experiencing the different types of plastic debris, how science is detecting its impacts on our ocean, and the efforts toward long-term solutions.

Located on the National Mall, the Ocean Plastics Lab will be open to the public daily from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM until June 17th. To plan your trip, visit the Ocean Plastics Lab website.

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eople gathered around a table, looking at something on the table.
From left to right, Julia Schnetzer from the German Marine Research Consortium gives a tour of the Ocean Plastics Lab to Boris Ruge, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Washington; Caroline Vicini, Deputy Head, Delegation of the European Union to the United States; Craig McLean, Acting Chief Scientist and Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and RDML Tim Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Image credit: NOAA.
An old boxcar with trash displayed on it.
The Ocean Plastics Lab is open on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. through June 17. Image credit: NOAA.
Last updated Jun. 14, 2019