Levels of debris in both the ocean and at the land-sea interface are of growing concern and marine debris poses a growing threat to marine life and biological diversity in the Channel Islands sanctuary. Ingestion and entanglement are two of the largest problems associated with marine debris, which may cause injury and death to selected marine wildlife, including some endangered and protected species found in the Channel Islands sanctuary. Marine animals in the sanctuary are harmed by ingesting marine debris, often mistaking it for food resulting in starvation or poisoning. Plastics in the marine environment never fully degrade and recent studies show plastic is consumed by organisms at all levels of the marine food web.
Entanglement in marine debris is another serious problem, and it has been linked to measurable population declines for a variety of marine mammals. Lost fishing gear can create long-term entrapment mechanisms that continuously kill mobile fauna for many years. Net materials are constructed to be strong and resilient, thus preventing escape of entangled wildlife and persisting in the environment for decades. Lost cage traps continue to catch prey on a continuing cycle as predators enter the traps to feed on dead and dying entrapped organisms. Nets and traps can physically scrape organisms off of hard reef habitat or sweep immobile invertebrates from sandy areas.
Debris can also endanger divers and boaters. Plastic debris in the water can foul propellers and clog or damage engine intake systems. Lost fishing gear (e.g., nets and line) and dumped trash impact benthic, pelagic, and shoreline habitats in the sanctuary. Marine debris impacts resources in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in many ways due to the many potential sources of debris, longevity of debris (especially plastics) in the marine environment, and continuing impacts caused by debris even as they degrade to smaller pieces.
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UC Davis and NOAA Marine Debris program
- What types of marine debris are found within and around Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary?
- What are the sources, types and accumulation rates of marine debris within the sanctuary?
- How can we reduce the sources of debris which end up in the sanctuary?
- What are the impacts to marine resources of removal activities?
- What tools are available to detect marine debris before it enters the sanctuary?
- Are certain types of debris more likely to contain contaminants and can those be targeted for removal efforts?
Education and Outreach Material
NOAA addresses marine debris in a number of ways. The Office for Coastal Management works with state coastal zone management programs on developing marine debris projects at the state and local levels.
NOAAs Marine Debris Program is a cross-NOAA collaboration that is undertaking a national and international effort focusing on identifying, removing, reducing and preventing debris in the marine environment.
NOAAs Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program is a joint program between NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that ensures that coastal states have the tools to address polluted runoff. Under the program, states must implement measures to promote recycling and proper waste disposal at marinas and encourage litter control to reduce the amount of trash that enters our coastal waters.
NOAAs Clean Marina Initiative is a voluntary, incentive-based program that encourages marina operators and recreational boaters to engage in environmentally sound operating and maintenance procedures, such as recycling and proper waste disposal that will reduce the amount of marine debris.
International Pellet Watch
Gittings, S.R., M. Tartt, and K. Broughton. 2013. National Marine Sanctuary System Condition Report 2013. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Silver Spring, MD. 33 pp.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 2008. Marine Debris Emergency Response Planning in the North-Central Gulf of Mexico Interim Draft Report. 44pp.
ONMS (Office of National Marine Sanctuaries). 2009. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report 2009. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Silver Spring, MD. 60 pp.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce and U. S. Navy. 1999. Turning to the Sea: Americas Ocean Future. 56 pp.