Modern Society has developed a number of uses for plastic due to its lightweight, strength, durability, versatility, and low cost. Products range from bags, bottles, cups, six-pack yokes, and balloons to strapping bands, plastic sheeting, resin pellets, packing materials and fishing gear. Growing evidence indicates that when dumped, lost or abandoned in the marine or aquatic environments, plastic debris not only looks bad, but can harm the environment.
Environmental impacts arise from entanglement of marine animals in plastic debris and from ingestion of plastic by aquatic organisms. Marine debris poses a threat to humans when divers, ships, or boats become fouled in debris. The world's beaches and waterfronts are becoming littered with plastic garbage requiring costly cleanup procedures.
As of January 1989, the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act makes it against the law to dump plastics at sea and in all U.S. navigable waters.
This educational publication is one of several public awareness efforts being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Marine Entanglement Research Program on the issue of marine debris.
A commitment to stop the dumping of plastics and other harmful refuse into the aquatic environment is needed from fishermen, boaters, sailors, merchant seafarers, and beachgoers alike. "If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem!"
The editors have drawn upon a variety of materials from other Federal and state agencies, commercial and recreational organizations, and private individuals to alert youth and their families to the hazards persistent marine debris pose to our natural resources and marine life.
We would like to acknowledge the combined cooperative efforts of a number of these individuals and organizations which have contributed to this Marine Debris Education Program Supplement. Failure to recognize any specific contributor to this effort is merely an oversight.
Center for Marine Conservation
(Formerly Center for Environmental Education)
Defenders of Wildlife
Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Cheri Ren Gillian
Natural Resources Consultants
NOAA/NMFS/NWAFC Graphics Dept.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Port of Newport
Sea Grant Programs (too numerous to mention)
Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism (SOLV)
Take Pride in America
Texas General Land Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Washington Department of Ecology
Washington Department of Natural Resources
The contents of this publication may be duplicated for non-profit educational purposes.
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