Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit

Together we are all responsible for the marine debris that flows into the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and together we must all pitch in to stop that flow.  Each state, agency, community, organization and individual must help if we are to succeed. The types of litter and sources of marine debris are myriad – consumer and single-use plastics, microfibers and microplastics, derelict and abandoned fishing gear. Reducing and ultimately eliminating this threat is paramount to the health of our environment, our coastal economies, and even our personal health.

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. Speakers during the summit identified what actions – many simple but powerful – each participant could take back to their state house, boardrooms and homes to stop marine debris before it happens.

Watch the recordings of the 2021 MARCO Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit sessions.




Summit Goal:

The 2021 Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit seeks to bring together Mid-Atlantic regional entities working on marine debris (including litter that becomes marine debris) – including state and federal agencies, tribes, non-profit organizations, academia, and other groups – to identify opportunities for coordination, discuss current and emerging marine debris fields, and highlight solutions to marine debris prevention and reduction. 


Summit Objectives:

  • *   Strengthen collaborative efforts to address marine debris issues in the Mid-Atlantic region by sharing successes and challenges from diverse stakeholder groups, including those representing state and federal agencies, tribes, fisheries, non-profit organizations, and academia
  • *   Receive updates on current marine debris science and trends
  • *   Learn about techniques and tools to change behavior and influence decisions that prevent or reduce marine debris

Day 1: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The 2021 Marine Debris Summit will begin with opening remarks from an exciting global leader — Oceana Senior Advisor Alexandra Cousteau — who will speak about the plastic pollution crisis threatening our blue planet and the most effective ways to protect marine wildlife, ecosystems and economies from marine debris.

We will then hear from federal and state leaders and policy-makers regarding impactful, ground-breaking new policies and initiatives that aim to reduce or prevent marine debris.


12:30 – 1:40 PM  Welcome and Opening Remarks

Laura McKay

Manager, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program
Chair, Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Work Group

Alexandra Cousteau
Senior Advisor to Oceana

Honorable Chris Coons
United States Senator, Delaware

Matt Strickler
Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia

Tommy Wells
Director, District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment

Dr. Kelsey Leonard
Shinnecock Nation


1:40 – 1:50 PM Break


1:50 – 2:30 PM State-level new policies and initiatives

Donna Morrow
Program Manager, Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Adam Schlachter

Environmental Program Manager, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Amy Bloomfield

Environmental Program Specialist, Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling, Division of Materials Management, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Kayla Montanye
Environmental Program Specialist, Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling, Division of Materials Management, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation


2:40 – 3:00 PM Break

3:00 PM Federal and regional new initiatives

Christy Kehoe
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program

Avalon Bristow
Program Director, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO)

Nancy Wallace
Director, NOAA Marine Debris Program

Gabriella Neusner
ORISE Research Fellow, Trash Free Waters Program, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ben Maurer
Sustainable Oceans Lead, National Renewable Energy Laborat

Day 2: Wednesday, July 21

The second day of the 2021 Marine Debris Summit will focus on different marine debris types. The first session will present the latest information on microplastics and microfibers and their potential effects on human health, wildlife, and their ecological impacts, as well as some innovative projects to reduce those impacts. The second session will tackle derelict fishing gear and innovative efforts for removing or preventing this type of marine debris.

12:30 – 2:30  PM Microplastics and Microfibers

Matt Robinson

Environmental Protection Specialist, Partnering & Environmental, Conservation Branch, Watershed Protection Division, DC Department of Energy and Environment

Bob Murphy
Tetra Tech, Member Chesapeake Bay Program Plastic Pollution Action Team
Chesapeake Bay Program Ecological Risks of Microplastics

Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason
Professor of Chemistry and Sustainability Coordinator, Pennsylvania State University

Chris Burbage
Environmental Scientist, Hampton Roads Sanitation District

Rachael Z Miller
Founder/CEO, Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and Cora Ball


2:30 – 3:00 PM Break


3:00 PM Tackling Derelict Fishing Gear

Christy Kehoe
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program

Jaclyn McGarry
Program Manager, Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Ocean Conservancy

Dr. Susan Barco
Senior Scientist, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Kate Fleming
Coastal Ecology Specialist, Delaware Sea Grant/University of Delaware

Sara Aubrey
Business and Project Development Coordinator, Net Your Problem


Day 3: Thursday, July 22

On this final day of the Mid-Atlantic Marine Debris Summit, we will learn about how single-use plastics are impacting the marine environment, and solutions that people are implementing throughout the region to reduce and prevent this issue. You’ll leave with lots of ideas for what you can do to help.


12:45 – 2:30 PM Taking on Single-Use Plastics

Katie Register
Executive Director, Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University

Matt Gove
Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager, Surfrider

Dr. Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Smith
Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Policy, K12 Education Director, Potomac Environmental Research & Education Center, George Mason University

Ashley Munoz-Trujillo & Stephanie Ruiz Molina
Freedom High School, Woodbridge, VA

Britta Baechler
Senior Manager for Ocean Plastics Research, Trash Free Seas, Ocean Conservancy


2:15 – 2:45 PM Break


3:00 PM Success Stories and What Can You Do?

Curtis Bennett 

Director of Equity & Community Engagement, National Aquarium 

Hilary Burgess

Marine Debris Monitoring Coordinator,  NOAA Marine Debris Program 

Christina Trapani
Owner, Eco Maniac Company

Steve Raabe 

Owner, OpinionWorks