Marine Debris

Tire on dead reef
Tire on dead reef (NOAA Photo Library)

Marine debris is responsible for broad degradation of the ocean's economic and ecological resources and poses a persistent threat to living and non-living marine resources, ecosystems, human health, maritime safety, and other economic resources. Although land-based activities are the major source of marine debris, garbage from ships is a significant source. Another source of concern, derelict fishing gear, potentially impacts target and non-target fish stocks, protected species, including seabirds, and marine mammals, and coastal and marine habitats. Given the circulation patterns of the ocean and its fluid nature, marine debris can be transported thousands of miles from its sources, impacting areas far from where the debris was generated, and potentially also transporting invasive species. Marine debris is thus an inherently international issue and actions taken to address it must therefore include actions at the regional and global level.

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