Marine Debris

WHAT IS MARINE DEBRIS?

Plastic bags, food wrappers, cigarette butts, fishing gear…The list goes on and on. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines marine debris 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.”[1]

More often than not, Miami’s marine debris comes from littering or dumping, where it flows from storm drains to rivers, rivers to the sea. It can also come from boating and shoreline recreational activities, such as beach picnics. It can be as small as microplastics or as large as an abandoned fishing vessel. Our ocean is polluted with a wide variety of marine debris, and the problem continues to grow.

 Types and Sources

WHAT IS ITS IMPACT

Marine debris has a detrimental impact on Miami’s, and South Florida’s, seas and waterways. Animals ingest garbage and plastics, or become entangled in nets, doing great harm to endangered populations. This pollution can damage sensitive habitats, such as coral reefs and mangroves, and introduce non-native, invasive species to the ecosystem. It also creates hazards for navigation, and wreaks economic havoc on communities that count on beach tourism and recreation.

Impacts

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 for upcoming marine debris cleanups!
  • Avoid single-use plastics—such as shopping bags, straws, and water bottles—recycle, and always dispose of trash in the bin.
  • High school student? You’re never too young to make a difference! Our Junior Ambassadors remove huge amounts of trash from our beaches every year while gaining valuable leadership skills and earning community credits.

HOME RULE & PREEMPTION

The state of Florida has preempted bans on plastic bags, polystyrene (styrofoam), and—most recently—has moved to preempt bans on sunscreens that are not "reef-safe." Read more about “Home Rule” and Preemptions here.

References
  1. https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/discover-issue\
  2. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris/
  3. The Southeast Florida Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program (2013)

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