Marine debris is solid, persistent material that has been manufactured or processed and then intentionally or unintentionally abandoned or discarded into the marine environment. The complex, global problem of marine debris causes significant harm to coastal and ocean ecosystems. Marine debris is a hazard to navigation, negatively impacts fishing and tourism economies and threatens human health.
In March 2019, Oregon Sea Grant Extension staff hosted a two-day workshop in Newport to update Oregon’s six-year action plan for marine debris. The previous plan was developed by representatives from Oregon sea Grant, federal and state agencies, tribes, local governments, nongovernmental organizations, academia and industry. The same participants in 2019 developed a 34-page, updated plan that identifies Oregon Sea Grant as a lead partner for 18 strategies across four goals: prevention, removal, coordination and research.
The Sea Grant Extension accomplishments included in the updated plan include:
- Convening a whale entanglement working group in 2018-19.
- Conducting educational activities that are in line with prevention strategies.
- Maintaining and updating a marine debris curriculum.
- Leading two events for families that focused on marine debris using “beach boxes."
- Hosting a workshop for 14 educators and offering a weeklong marine debris summer camp for 20 youths ages 11-15 at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.
Additionally, Oregon Sea Grant joined the Surfrider Foundation and the Oregon Coast Aquarium to support an event at Oregon’s capitol during which Gov. Kate Brown proclaimed March 14, 2019, to be Rise Above Plastic Pollution Day.