Glossary of Terms and Acronyms
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Terms and acronyms commonly used in conjuction with, and as they pertain to, marine debris.
Abandoned vessels - Lost or discarded ships, boats, or other watercraft (also referred to as "derelict vessels") .
Annex - An addition to an established structure or document. In regards to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the annexes are sections containing specific provisions of the law.
Bioaccumulation - General term for the accumulation of substances, such as toxins or contaminants, in an organism or part of an organism.
Biodegradation - The process by which organic substances are broken down by living organisms.
Degradable - Capable of being broken down into smaller pieces by natural forces.
Derelict - Any article of lost, abandoned, or discarded property.
Derelict fishing gear (DFG) - Fishing gear that has been lost or abandoned at some point during use, continuing to float throughout the water column and/or smother crucial habitats such as coral reefs.
Disposal - The permanent storage or removal of trash from the environment.
Endangered Species - Defined under the Endangered Species Act as "any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range."
Entanglement - The position of being wrapped or twisted within another object such as a net or fishing line.
Gear - Equipment used for fishing, (e.g. gillnet, handline, harpoon, seine, longline, midwater trawl, purse seine, rod-and-reel, trap, trawler). Does not include vessels.
Ghost fishing - The capability of lost or discarded fishing gear such as nets, traps, or fishing line to continue to catch fish, shellfish, or other marine life.
Ghost net - Lost or discarded net debris.
Habitat - The area in which a plant or animal naturally lives, grows and reproduces; that provides adequate food, water, shelter and living space.
IMO - International Maritime Organization
Ingestion - The consumption of an item (in this case debris) by an animal. Ingestion of debris can cause suffocation, clogging of the digestive tract, or artificial sensations of fullness that can result in malnutrition and starvation.
Interagency - Among or between governmental or Federal departments.
Landfill - A specially engineered site for disposing of solid waste on land that is constructed to reduce any hazards to public health and safety.
Marine debris - Any man-made object discarded, disposed of, or abandoned that enters the coastal or marine environment. It may enter directly from a ship, or indirectly when washed out to sea via rivers, streams and storm drains.
MARPOL - International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (also referred to as "MARPOL 73/78" or "MARPOL Convention"). Defined by the International Maritime Organization as "the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes." Contains six technical annexes.
MARPOL Annex V - Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships, 31 December 1988. The complete ban imposed on the dumping of all forms of plastic into the sea.
MDP - Marine Debris Program
NGO - Non-governmental organization
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Offshore oil platform - A structure in the ocean that forms a base from which oil drilling is conducted.
Persistent - Capable of remaining in the environment for long periods of time without being broken down.
Photodegradation - Degradation of a molecule by wavelengths of light or radiation.
Plastic resin pellets - Small, round pellets that are the raw form of plastic. These pellets are melted down to form plastic products. Also see nurdles.
Prevention - An effort to hinder or stop trash, fishing gear, and other items from becoming marine debris.
Recycling - The reprocessing of materials to be used again in a similar or different form.
Source - A place or activity that generates debris that enters the marine environment.
Storm water runoff - Water that flows along streets or the ground as a result of a storm.
Threatened species - A species whose numbers are very low or declining, and likely to become endangered if not protected.
Trash - Articles that have been made and used by humans and subsequently discarded. When these items enter the marine environment, they become marine debris.