Marine debris is defined as any persistent, manufactured, or processed solid material that is directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment. Marine debris includes a wide variety of objects (e.g., derelict fishing gear, lost vessel cargo, plastics, etc.) that pose a threat to the marine environment, human health, and/or navigation. Various types of debris, including fishing gear, plastic bags, foamed polystyrene, balloons, and other consumer goods, are known to have adverse effects on marine species.
Levels of debris in both the ocean, Great Lakes and at the land-sea interface are of growing concern. Marine debris resulting from commercial and recreational fishing and boating activities are potential stressors to Thunder Bay’s maritime archaeological resources, with the biggest threat being damage resulting from deploying, dragging and recovering anchors and nets. Derelict lines and lures pose a potential hazard to scuba divers. Although gillnet remnants are known to exist at a couple shipwreck sites in the sanctuary, the future threat is not great given the limited number of commercial fishers in the area and the prohibition of gillnets in U.S. waters of Lake Huron south of Hammond Bay.
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is actively seeking research partners to conduct work connected to Marine Debris as a sentinel issue.
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NOAA Great Lakes Marine Debris
NOAA Marine Debris Program
Michigan State University: Microplastics- Where do they come from?
Michigan State University Extension
- What is the source of the marine debris?
- What types of marine debris are found within and around the Sanctuary?
- What are the impacts of marine debris removal (biological and cultural)?
- What are the impacts of disregarding marine debris (biological and cultural)?
- Are there certain areas more susceptible to accumulation of marine debris?
Education and Outreach Material
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). 2013. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report 2013. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Silver Spring, MD. 80 pp.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce and U. S. Navy. 1999. Turning to the Sea: America’s Ocean Future. 56 pp.