Marine Debris Program

volunteer standing on the beach looking out to the ocean
Marine debris volunteer on Limantour Beach, Point Reyes, CA. Photo: Kate Bimrose/NOAA

Marine debris is a global problem that impacts marine life, damages habitat, impedes navigation, impacts our economy, and is a risk to human health and safety. Every day more and more discarded debris enters our marine environment through a variety of ways such as ineffective waste management, intentional or accidental dumping, and through stormwater runoff. Much of this debris is made of plastic, which breaks down into small pieces called microplastics, and can remain in our marine environment indefinitely. These impacts make marine debris one of the biggest pollution issues threatening today's oceans and waterways.

The sanctuary addresses the issue of marine debris through education, research, and prevention efforts that benefit ocean systems well beyond our sanctuary boundaries. Thanks to partnerships with Greater Farallones Association, the Seabird Protection Network,and the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration's Marine Debris Program, the sanctuary has led successful marine debris assessment and reduction initiatives. For more information on two of these efforts check out our Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment and Shotgun Wad Debris Reduction projects.