Marine Debris Action Coordination Team

Chair Eben Schwartz, California Coastal Commission

Vice-Chair Nir Barnea, NOAA Office of Response and Restoration

WCGA Action Plan

Action 1.4: Establish baseline estimates of marine debris and derelict gear off the West Coast and set reduction goals. Support state and federal policies for achieving marine debris reduction goals, including debris prevention through expanded recycling, improved trash maintenance, public education, and enforcement of litter laws.

Marine Debris Action Coordination Team Work Plan

Marine debrisRecent Accomplishments

  • Convened three workshops with subject experts from the West Coast region on topics including; derelict fishing gear (March, 2010), land-based debris (February, 2011), and the creation of a marine debris alliance (October, 2011).  

  • Generated an inventory of derelict fishing gear survey and removal activities and developed preliminary guidelines for a derelict fishing gear database. 
  • Secured funding to initiate the creation of the West Coast marine debris database. This database will incorporate the derelict fishing gear database and provide critical information to establish baseline estimates of marine debris.
  • The WCGA urged NOAA to help support a collaborative effort to reduce marine debris throughout the Pacific.


Marine Debris Action Coordination Team

The Marine Debris ACT (MD ACT) came together for the first time in November 2008. They acknowledged that while there were many activities currently underway in Washington, Oregon, and California addressing marine debris, there was little effort to coordinate these projects. It was clear that the West Coast lacked a comprehensive approach to addressing marine debris. Additionally, there were no comprehensive efforts to account for marine debris across the region; to evaluate existing projects; to share best practices or lessons learned; or educate partners both within the three states or neighboring states about promising marine debris programs.


The Marine Debris ACT brings together stakeholders and experts representing state, federal, regional, tribal, and not-for-profit organizations that have experience with derelict fishing gear and land-based debris, including recovery and cleanup, policy analysis and planning, funding, research, and much more. The MD ACT is tasked to create a framework to identify, assess, prevent and reduce marine debris, leveraging existing resources and expertise within the three states. In addition, the MD ACT is currently working to establish a West Coast Marine Debris Alliance to oversee the execution of the strategy.


Derelict Fishing GearWork plan priorities/current projects

  • West Coast Marine Debris Strategy - Provides a framework for cooperatively addressing land and ocean generated debris and derelict fishing gear in California, Oregon and Washington.
  • West Coast Marine Debris Database - A comprehensive database that will be used to establish a West Coast marine debris baseline, inform policy and management decisions, and serve as an educational tool for the general public. 
  • West Coast Marine Debris Alliance -  Oversees the execution of the West Coast Marine Debris Strategy through increased collaboration.