Reducing marine debris
 means reducing the
 amount of waste generated
 on land and at sea, and
 disposing of it properly.

 Volunteer coastal cleanups
 and public education efforts
 can help reduce the
 amount of debris in our
 waterways  and coastlines.

 In 2008, over 183,000
 people across the U.S.
 participated in beach
 cleanups.  These cleanup
 efforts removed almost four
 million pounds of debris
 from more  than 9,000
 miles of coasts,  shorelines,
 and underwater sites.

 Recycling and proper
 disposal can significantly
 reduce the  amounts of
 marine debris reaching
 oceans and coastal waters.

 A great deal more can be
 done. You  can be part of
 the solution.
                               Marine debris is a problem along shorelines, and in
                               coastal waters, estuaries, and oceans throughout the world.
                               Marine debris is any man-made, solid material that enters
                               our waterways either directly or indirectly.  Marine debris
                               enters our oceans and coasts from a number of land- and
                               ocean-based sources.  More people move near our Nation's
                               coasts each year, and the production of trash and the
                               potential for marine debris continues to increase.  We need
                               to better control the disposal of trash and other wastes, or
                               we will continue to find marine debris in our rivers,
                               streams, and oceans.
 Marine debris is trash and other
  solid material that enters oceans
  and coastal waters and often ends
  up on our beaches. It is also known
  as litter.

 Common types of marine debris
  include plastic bags,  bottles and
  cans, cigarette filters, bottle caps,
  and lids.

 When trash is not recycled or
  properly thrown away on land, it can
  become marine debris.  For
  example, trash in the streets can
  wash into sewers, storm drains, or
  inland rivers and streams when it
  rains and can be carried to oceans
  and coastal waters.

 People who go to the beach
  sometimes leave behind trash.

 Recreational and commercial
  fishermen sometimes lose or
  discard large fishing nets and lines
  in the ocean.

 Ships and recreational boats at sea
  sometimes intentionally or
  accidentally dump trash directly into
  the ocean. Trash from boats may
  be thrown, dropped, or blown
 Trash on the beach can be harmful
  to the health and safety of beach
  users.  It also makes the beach look
  ugly and dirty. Dirty beaches
  discourage visitors and cause local
  beach communities to lose money
  from tourism or to spend money on
  cleanup efforts.

 Many types of animals, like seals,
  sea turtles, birds, fish, and crabs,
  can be wounded, strangled, or
  unable to swim if they consume or
  become entangled in marine debris.

 Marine animals can swallow marine
  debris causing suffocation or
  starvation. Sea birds have been
  known to swallow small plastic
  pieces (which look like fish eggs);
  and sea turtles have been known to
  swallow clear plastic bags (which
  look like jellyfish).

 EPA and other stakeholders
  support the annual International
  Coastal Cleanup (ICC),
  implemented by Ocean
  Conservancy. The ICC currently
  involves 50 U.S. states and
  territories and 104 countries from
  around the world. The ICC is the
  largest volunteer environmental
  data-gathering effort and cleanup
  of coastal and underwater areas in
  the world.  Thousands of
  participants learn the value of
  preventing and controlling marine
  debris. The ICC takes place on
  the third Saturday in September
  every year.

 Ocean Conservancy with support
  from EPA recently completed the
  National Marine Debris Monitoring
  Program (NMDMP). The NMDMP
  was developed to standardize
  marine debris data collection and
  assess marine debris sources and
  trends in the  U.S. NMDMP used
  trained volunteers to conduct
  monthly marine debris surveys on
  designated beaches over a five-
  year period. The NMDMP Report
  indicates that approximately 49
  percent of the marine debris items
  collected nationally during the
  study originated from land-based
  sources, 18 percent from ocean-
  based sources, and 33 percent
  from  general-sources (i.e., items
  that originate on land or at sea).

 EPA scientists have conducted
  numerous  studies to identify types
  and sources of marine debris.
  EPA also focuses control efforts
  on specific sources such as street
  litter, storm water runoff, and
  industrial wastewater,  and
  supports recycling programs.

 Visit our website at

 Contact the Oceans and Coastal
  Protection  Division at 202-566-1200.
                                              Office of Water
                                 Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds
                    1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. (Mail Code 4504T), Washington, D.C. 20460