IMDCC Marine Debris Report

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Ben Sherman, NOAA,

Enesta Jones, EPA,


Federal Agencies Map Plans to Address Marine Debris

September 22, 2008

EPA, NOAA and nine other federal agencies announced today the completion of an interagency report that guides the strategies of individual federal agencies and of the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee (IMDCC) to prevent and reduce marine debris. The report also discusses marine debris efforts, recent progress and innovative ways to reduce the problem in the future.

The report, written by IMDCC at the request of Congress, focuses on marine debris sources, impacts, and strategies and represents another step in implementing recommendations called for in the President's Ocean Action Plan.

Marine debris, which includes improperly discarded plastic grocery bags, bottles, ropes, tires, soda rings and lost fishing gear, is found in the ocean and along coasts around the world. Marine debris threatens public safety, hurts the economy with costly cleanups and deterred tourism, and harms and kills marine life such as seals, sea turtles, sea birds, and coral reefs.

"Marine debris is a serious problem that is jeopardizing the health of the oceans across the planet," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "It is however, a problem that we can address by working together. Marine debris exists because of human activities and thus we are ultimately the solution. This report is a significant step in the right direction." 

"Ocean trash is a tragedy that can be prevented locally and globally,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water. “The Administration’s plan increases awareness and action so citizens and governments protect the health and beauty of our ocean and coasts upstream, at the beach, and in the deep blue sea.”

The recommendations in the IMDCC’s report focus on prevention, response to debris already in the environment, research and development, and coordination. While several agencies currently conduct marine debris activities, further actions are being developed by the IMDCC and individual agencies to further implement the recommendations. The IMDCC and its member agencies will focus activities on supporting efforts to change public attitudes and practices, research to understand the full effects of marine debris and ways to reduce its negative impacts, and work directly to reduce the amount of marine debris already in the marine and coastal environment. 

The IMDCC is co-chaired by NOAA and EPA. Federal agencies that are also members include: Department of Interior programs including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the Minerals Management Service, as well as the Department of Justice, Department of State, Marine Mammal Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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