Marine Debris
A persistent problem in our bay

By definition, marine debris is 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. To put it simply, marine debris is human-generated trash that ends up in our waterways.

Marine debris and other pollutants are washed with heavy rain down our neighborhood storm drain pipes and flushed into our rivers, lakes, bays, and oceans.

The most common type of marine debris is plastic. There are many aspects of our modern world that would not be possible without plastic production, but unfortunately plastic breaks into smaller pieces which leach toxins and persist in our environment forever!

Marine debris threatens our human health, tourism economy, water quality, and wildlife. It’s something we see and hear about all too often, and it’s everyone’s problem!

Common types of marine debris in Tampa Bay

Monofilament fishing line and gear, like hooks, lures, and crab traps.
Single-use plastics, like water bottles, Styrofoam containers, food wrappers, cigarettes, and plastic grocery bags.
Microplastics (the breakdown of plastics into tiny pieces). The University of South Florida discovered that Tampa Bay contains four billion particles of microplastics!

Here’s how you can make a difference:

As a community deeply rooted in our love for the water, let’s work together to combat marine debris!

REMEMBER that our land and sea are connected.

RECYCLE properly by following your city’s guidelines.

REDUCE the amount of waste you produce.

GET INVOLVED and engage your family and friends to participate in local cleanups.

REUSE items when you can, rather than purchasing disposables.

VOTE for candidates that implement policy to protect our environment.

REFUSE unnecessary single-use items, like plastic water bottles, grocery bags, straws, or cutlery.

Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Marine Debris Program

Did you know...

8 million tons of plastic enters the oceans each year (equivalent of dumping one garbage truck into the sea every minute). Scientists estimate that there could be one pound of plastic for every 3 pounds of fish in the ocean within the next decade.

Thank you to the Pinellas Community Foundation and Ocean Conservancy for supporting our marine debris programs.

Email Melanie Grillone with questions about this program:

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