Marine Debris Work Group

Addressing the problem of marine debris requires collaboration across multiple levels of government, with partners in the private sector, and with members of the public. MARCO supports regional coordination on marine debris through the Marine Debris Work Group and related activities.

2023 Marine Debris Work Plan and Progress Report 

Balloon Release Reduction and Prevention Campaigns

In 2017 the Work Group convened for a Mid-Atlantic Regional Marine Debris Reduction Workshop to develop options for a regional strategy to discuss potential regional projects and collaborations.

In 2018 MARCO received an FY18 NOAA Marine Debris Prevention Grant to complete a project to expand on Virginia CZM’s community based social marketing campaign to reduce mass balloon releases at celebratory events.

In 2021 the Work Group launched the Prevent Balloon Litter Campaign with a website, public awareness campaign and a story map.

Balloon marine debris is of immediate concern to the Atlantic Coast because of its potential deadly effects on marine wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. Balloons are unique among all the man-made litter because helium-filled balloons (and their attachments including plastic valves, disks and ribbons) are a form of litter that people actually purchase with the intent to release them into the environment.

Tracking Balloon Litter and Marine Debris

map location of marine debris monitoring in New Jersey

Three new map layers provide a snapshot of the prevalence of balloon litter among the many types of marine debris found on beaches throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The maps mark six locations throughout the region where MARCO initiated recurring beach cleanups beginning in 2016 and recorded how many pieces of balloon litter and other plastic trash were recovered.Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit

In 2019 Virginia CZM hosted a Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit which the Work Group helped   to organize.  Presentations from the 2019 Summit can be viewed here.

On July 20 – 22, 2021, the Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit brought together policy-makers, researchers, businesses and the public to explore current trends in marine debris, new science on marine debris impacts, and new technology, policies and initiatives to prevent and reduce marine debris. Watch the recordings of the 2021 Summit sessions.  Summit Agenda   Summary Report  

Regional Marine Debris Collaborative

With assistance from NOAA, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Marine Debris Work Group developed a Regional Marine Debris Collaborative Portal to spatially and visually track the marine debris projects both past and present in the Mid-Atlantic. The tool uses an interactive map and table to highlight the many efforts in the region to reduce marine debris, including information such as funding amount, project details, and locations of proposed, ongoing, and completed projects.

For more information about the Marine Debris Work Group contact