Marine Debris with Divers in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

"As you know, marine debris (plastic and other garbage in our oceans) is a huge and growing problem.  Marine debris is estimated to kill millions of seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.  In all, 270 ocean species are affected by entanglement or ingestion by the roughly 14 billion pounds of trash that flow into our oceans each year." Ocean Champions

Derelict traps and rope removed from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit:SBNMS.

The Ocean River Institute is teaming up with Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions (NADE) and the National Marine Sanctuary program on a new project: "In Sight and In Mind: Marine Debris Documentation and Removal in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS)."

Heather Knowles (NADE) and ORI's Rob Moir both serve on the SBNMS Advisory Council.  In 2012 divers are survey and documenting the extent and diversity of ocean trash.  They hope to remove some of it and will be posting underwater images of what divers find.

Marine debris is any persistent manufactured or processed stuff that was disposed of or abandoned into the ocean.  We do not know how much of the marine debris beneath the waves of Stellwagen is ocean-based from vessels and ships or land-based from littering, dumping and industrial losses. 

We do know, thanks to Sanctuary research, that derelict fishing gear is a problem due to entanglement of ocean wildlife and a deadly propensity to continue fishing.  Several SBNMS recreational dive sites have abandoned derelict fishing gear that is perpetually fishing and poses a hazard to SCUBA divers.  This project will document the marine debris, and where possible, remove it.  Debris documentation will be used to develop an interpretive website and publication to raise public awareness of the issue and build public support for addressing the problem.  Dissemination of compelling underwater imagery is a valuable tool for engaging the public in an environmental issue that few can see.

Help clear the waters and beaches of debris. Take action by writing to our sponsor with words why reducing marine trash is important to someone who does not live on Stellwagen but instead values for its own sake.  

A sea of plastic trash in the ocean causes hardship for more than the paddler.

< Back to Actions

Take Action


Sign our letter and tell decision makers why one should care for marine debris, ocean plastic pollution.

Where have all the herring gone?


Pam Gromen of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation and Roger Fleming, Earthjustice talk with Rob on Ocean River Shields of Achilles internet talk radio.

Additional Resources

Sea Debris: Locating and removing derelict fishing gear in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Tell Congress to Fight Ocean Plastic!

Text of H.R. 1171: Marine Debris Act Reauthorization Amendments of 2011

Marine Debris

web solution by RainStorm, Inc.