Salem Sound Coastwatch: NOAA’s Marine Debris Program Presentation

From SAFE Advisory Board member, Nancy Gilberg:

“Salem Sound Coastwatch put on another fantastic program last night. The first presenter was Keith Cialino of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, who gave me permission to share info from his slides. Pretty stunning statistics. Here’s info from his first four slides:”

What is marine debris? Marine debris is “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.”
Marine debris sources:
  •  Ocean based:
    • Commercial and recreational fishing operations.
    • Derelict and abandoned vessels.
    • Offshore industry (e.g. aquaculture; oil rigs)
  • Land based:
    • Littering
    • Storm drains
    • Illegal dumping
    • Accidental or storm-related movement from land (wind, hurricanes, flooding)
2010 statistics: 270 million metric tons of global plastic production (amount of plastic stuff produced worldwide). 275 million metric tons global plastic waste (yes, that means we threw away more than we produced that year). 8 million metric tons of plastic waste made its way to the ocean. (Source: Jambeck et. al., Science 2015)
What does 8 million metric tons look like? The above statistic (8 million metric tons of waste entering ocean in 2010) is the equivalent of 5 grocery bags of garbage per 1 foot of shoreline worldwide (Source:


marine debris
Marine debris from below in Hawaii.
Image source: NOAA's Marine Debris Program's website