Addressing Marine Debris in the Gulf of Maine
Gulf of Maine Regional Collaboration
In November 2021, the Gulf of Maine Association was awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to partner with NOAA, Gulf of Maine Council, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, Center for Coastal Studies, Huntsman Marine Science Centre, Maine Coastal Program – Maine Department of Marine Resources, Surfrider Foundation, Urban Harbors Institute and the five jurisdictions bordering the Gulf of Maine to create an international collaborative approach for addressing plastic and other marine debris in the Gulf of Maine watershed. Funding for this program was awarded by NOAA’s North America Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Grant program which supports projects that prevent and remove debris in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada border areas.
About Marine Debris
Marine debris poses an environmental threat to coastal and ocean ecosystems. Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment. Sources of marine debris include windswept and littered trash, debris from coastal storms, storm water discharges, fishing and other maritime activities. Common types of marine debris include shipping materials, packaging and consumer products; single-use plastics items such as water bottles, straws, foam food ware, cigarette butts, balloons and grocery bags; microplastics; derelict fishing gear; and abandoned and derelict vessels. For additional information, check out NOAA’s Discover Marine Debris resources including:
- What is Marine Debris?
- Why is Marine Debris a Problem?
- Abandoned and Derelict Vessels
- Derelict Fishing Gear
- Microplastic Marine Debris Fact Sheet
- Plastic Marine Debris Fact Sheet
Marine Debris in the Gulf of Maine
Addressing the environmental problem of marine debris in the Gulf of Maine helps protect valuable habitat for migratory shorebirds, fish, shellfish and marine mammals. Removing marine debris also improves essential fish habitat for species such as Atlantic herring, lobster and crab, Atlantic cod, haddock, and winter flounder. Marine debris prevention and removal efforts also reduce sources of entrapment, entanglement, and ingestion for the multitude of marine animals and birds in the Gulf of Maine. This project seeks to advance implementation of the 2019 Gulf of Maine Marine Debris Action Plan with particular focus on achieving the following goals of the plan: 1) reduce consumer debris in the Gulf of Maine region, 2) collaborate with industry to reduce impacts of derelict fishing gear in the Gulf of Maine, 3) expand collaboration with recreational fisheries, 4) reduce microplastics, and 5) prevent and reduce marine debris impacts to wildlife and habitat.
About the Program
U.S. and Canadian partners are working together to remove, reduce and prevent the introduction of marine debris in the Gulf of Maine. Project partners are conducting coastal cleanups, tracking marine debris, and reducing the introduction of plastics, fishing gear and other sources of marine debris before they harm marine mammals and damage fisheries, ocean and coastal habitats, recreation areas, and other natural resources in the Gulf of Maine. Project accomplishments have been highlighted through a variety of outreach activities, including:
- Poster presented during September 2022 at 7IMDC, 7th International Marine Debris Conference in Busan, Republic of Korea. View the poster here.
- Blog highlighting experience of project team members at 7IMDC, 7th International Marine Debris Conference in Busan, Republic of Korea. View the blog here.
- Project highlights in May 2022 blog post hosted by the NOAA Marine Debris Program: View the blog here.
- December 2021 presentation to the Gulf of Maine Council. View the presentation here.
- Check our calendar for upcoming cleanups and events in your area.
- Conduct your own DIY cleanup using this Digital Cleanup Kit.
- Find out how your restaurant can reduce pollution by becoming an Ocean Friendly Restaurant.
- Learn about yellow shock tubing washing up on area beaches and send reports to email@example.com
Follow Us on Social Media
- Jen Kennedy, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
- Laura Ludwig, Center for Coastal Studies
- Joan LeBlanc, Gulf of Maine Association / Gulf of Maine Council
- Courtney Piercy, Huntsman Marine Science Centre
- Theresa Torrent, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Coastal Program
- Demi Fox, NOAA Marine Debris Program
- Melissa Gates, Surfrider Foundation
- Kimberly Starbuck, Urban Harbors Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston