California Marine Debris Action Plan

by Jill Kauffman, Cent for Marine Conservation, San Francisco, United States,
Maria Brown, Cent for Marine Conservation, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


Trash in the oceans and on California's beaches are killing marine wildlife and fouling our beaches. To address this problem in California, the Center for Marine Conservation convened a statewide Marine Debris Steering Committee, in August 1989, comprised of representatives of federal, state, and local government, industry, science, education and conservation organizations. The Steering Committee evaluated the marine debris problem in California and developed 22 recommendations to reduce debris in the marine environment. The results were published in a report, the California Marine Debris Action Plan. During the 1989 California Coastal Cleanup, volunteers recorded the types and amounts of trash they collected from the beach. The information was analyzed by the Center for Marine Conservation and indicated that 54.75 percent of the debris collected was plastic with the biggest threat to California's marine environment from land-based sources. California also had the most entangled and dead wildlife of any Cleanup state in the nation. The cost to maintain clean beach areas are great. The cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach each spent more than $1 million in 1988-9 to clean their beaches and costs continue to rise. In recommendations put forth in the Action Plan, the Steering Committee identified the need to education the public about the harm of marine debris, proper disposal, and existing litter and dumping laws as a priority to effectively address the problem. Education must be conducted in conjunction with proper enforcement of the laws, continued research, and progressive waste management legislation.

Subject Headings: Debris | Ecological restoration | Wildlife | High-rise buildings | Coastal management | Beaches | Water pollution | Sea water | California | United States

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