Marine Debris

Everyday consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, and other lost or discarded items end up in our oceans making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing our waterways, impacting our wildlife, environment, economy, and public health.

What is marine debris?

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 or the Great Lakes. A majority of the trash and debris on coasts comes from littering or dumping, where it washes down storm drains into rivers, and then into the sea. Marine debris also comes from boating and shoreline recreational activities such as picnicking on beaches. Our ocean is polluted with a wide variety of marine debris, ranging from soda bottles and plastic bags to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels.[1]

Impacts Types and Sources

Home Rule & Preemption

The State has authorized a series of preemptions relating to environmental matters, undermining municipal "Home Rule." The state of Florida has preempted plastic bag bans, polystyrene (styrofoam) bans, and most recently has made moves to preempt bans on sunscreens that are not "reef-safe." Read more about Home Rule and Preemptions here.

How can you help?

  • Sign up below to receive updates and help us move forward towards a cleaner, brighter future for Miami’s waterways. 
  • Interested in partnering with Miami Waterkeeper for a clean up? Email [email protected] for more information on how we can get your group outside and making a difference! 
  • Check out our upcoming events to see when we are next planning to clean up marine debris from our beaches and waterways!
  • Make small lifestyle changes to help prevent and reduce marine debris. Use reusable bags when shopping, recycle more regularly, cleaning up trash, and use a reusable water bottle.
  • High school student? You’re never too young to make a difference! Our Junior Ambassadors do a great job removing tons of trash from our beaches!
  3. The Southeast Florida Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program (2013)

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