2022 Virginia Marine Debris Summit

Oct 26, 2022

The 2022 Virginia Marine Debris Summit was held September 26-28 at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, VA. This year’s summit organized by Clean Virginia Waterways (CVW) and the Virginia CZM Program focused on consumer debris. Following years of virtual meetings, including the 2021 MARCO Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit, the Virginia summit was held in person, selling out of registrations with 120 people in attendance, including a few attendees from MARCO states. The event began with a Monday night free, public  lecture given by Zach Huntington of CVW and Laura McKay of the VA CZM Program, detailing Virginia efforts to curb plastic pollution in the ocean.


The September 27-28 events included:


  • A Keynote from Nancy Wallace, Director of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program
  • Progress on the 2021-2025 Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan, and strategies for prevention, behavior change, education, and outreach’ including presentations by Virginia Witmer and Avalon Bristow on MARCO’s balloon release reduction campaign and plans for curbing single use of plastic bottles at the beach and other waterfront recreation areas in the Mid-Atlantic
  • Tuesday afternoon field trips to the Virginia Aquarium’s new marine mammal/sea turtle stranding center, the Aquarium’s exciting new South Building and to the Oceanfront to practice marine debris collection and monitoring techniques and view the Aquarium’s VA CZM-funded marine debris kiosk on the Oceanfront Boardwalk
  • Presentations on a variety of consumer debris reduction projects, research and funding
  • A sunset networking reception where participants ventured out to view dolphins
  • A session on plastic pollution policy and potential future legislation including a presentation by Steve Raabe of OpinionWorks on the 2022 Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program and Clean Virginia Waterways statewide survey on Virginia voters’ preferences for plastic pollution policy.
  • Break-out groups and a final open mic session for participants to share ideas on priorities, hot topics, next steps, challenges, and opportunities


After the Summit a second tour of the Aquarium’s Stranding Center was offered and to the delight of Katie Register, Director of Clean Virginia Waterways, she had the honor of releasing a rehabilitated Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle. A summary of the summit will be posted on Virginia CZM’s marine debris webpage

Release of a rehabilitated Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle at Virginia Beach
Credit: VA CZM Program









































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Marine Debris Kiosk on the Oceanfront Boardwalk at Virginia Beach

Credit: VA CZM Program

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