underwater photo looking up through marine debris floating on the surface.
Marine debris from below in Hawaii.

Learn the Basics

What is marine debris?
Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world's oceans and waterways.

Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. It is a global problem, and it is an everyday problem. There is no part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy, and human health.

Most of all, marine debris is preventable. Learn more about marine debris and find out how.

Microplastics

Learn more about the different types of debris, including plastic, derelict fishing gear, and abandoned and derelict vessels.

North Pacific Subtropical Gyre

Discover how marine debris moves and why "garbage patches" form.

Turtle entangled in net

Understand marine debris impacts, including how it harms wildlife, habitat, and the economy.

Japan Tsunami Debris Floating

Learn how you can help solve the marine debris problem.