Marine Debris

What is Marine Debris?

Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is any persistent, manufactured, or processed solid material discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the coastal and marine environment. It is a menace to commercial shipping and fishing vessels, and can facilitate the transport of organic and inorganic contaminants into the environment.

What causes Marine Debris?

A common perception is that ships and offshore activities are responsible for the majority of marine debris. But in reality, only about 8% of the debris comes from ocean and inland waterway sources; the majority of debris comes from land-based sources such as street litter, sewage treatment, combined sewer overflows, people using the coast for recreation or shore fishing, etc.

How does Marine Debris Affect the Environment?

Marine debris is not only aesthetically detrimental– it can harm ocean ecosystems, humans, and wildlife. Marine debris can injure or kill coastal and marine wildlife; damage and degrade habitats; interfere with navigational safety (propeller fouling); cause economic loss to fishing and maritime industries; degrade the quality of life in coastal communities, and endanger human health and safety.

Marine debris, particularly plastic debris, has been identified as a global problem alongside other grave issues, such as climate change, ocean acidification, and loss of biodiversity.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest accumulation of ocean plastic and is located in the central North Pacific Ocean.

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