Marine debris is a global problem that threatens the health and safety of oceans and coastal waterways. Marine debris can damage sensitive habitat that supports fisheries and can harm protected species. Marine debris also has economic impacts. These impacts are felt by those whose livelihoods are linked to the sea, yet in many cases the costs remain unknown. The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is working to close this information gap in order to better understand the marine debris problem and prioritize removal and prevention efforts.
Puget Sound, Washington
- Total annual loss of Dungeness crab due to derelict pots/traps has been estimated at 372,000 crabs with an ex-vessel value of $1.2 million, representing 30% - 40% of the annual commercial catch (NWSF 2007).
- Derelict gill nets removed from Puget Sound between 2004 and 2007 with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program are estimated to have killed commercial and recreational species valued at approximately $1.06 million (NWSF 2007).
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and Virginia
- Derelict blue crab pots can continue "ghost" fishing for over four years, reducing the abundance and reproductive capacity of the stock (Slacum 2009).
- Over 30,000 derelict pots have been removed from the Chesapeake with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, allowing as many as $1.5 million market sized crab, worth approximately $500,000 at the dock, to remain in the system (Slacum 2009, Havens et al., in press).
- Approximately 85,000 derelict traps were estimated to be in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake in 2007 (Slacum 2009).
- Marine debris wash-up events on New Jersey beaches during two summer seasons caused between $728 million and $3.07 billion (2010 USD) in losses to the tourism sector (Ofiara and Brown 1999).
A survey of visitors to the Cape Peninsula suggested that a drop in standards of beach cleanliness could result in the loss of up to of 52% of tourism revenue (Balance et al. 2000)
- Washington DC spent an average of $319,000 per year (2006-2009) to operate and maintain two skimmer boats that remove floating debris from its waterways.
- Los Angeles County's 31 miles of beaches cost $4.2 million to clean in 1994.
- Survey respondents from New Jersey and North Carolina were willing to pay between $21 and $72 (1993 USD) annually to improve beach quality by reducing the amount of debris (Smith et al. 1997).
Ballance, A., P. Ryan, and J.K. Turpie. 2000. How much is a clean beach worth? The impact of litter on beach users in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 96: 210-213.
Havens K., et al. (in press). Fishery failure, unemployed commercial fishers, and lost blue crab pots: an unexpected success story. Environmental Science and Policy (2011).
Natural Resource Consultants, Inc. 2007. A cost-benefit analysis of derelict fishing gear removal in Puget Sound, Washington. Prepared for The Northwest Straits Foundation. 16 pp.
Ofiara, D.D. and B. Brown. 1999. Assessment of economic losses to recreational activities from 1988 marine pollution events and assessment of economic losses from long-term contamination of fish within the New York Bight to New Jersey." Marine Pollution Bulletin 38: 990-1004.
Slacum H. W. , Jr., S. Giordano, J. Lazar, D. Bruce, C. Little, D. Levin, H. J. Dew-Baxter, L. Methratta, D. Wong, R. Corbin. 2009. Quantifying the effects of derelict fishing gear in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay. Prepared for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and NOAA Marine Debris Program. July 2009.
Smith, V.K., X. Zhang and R.B. Palmquist. 1997. The economic value of controlling marine debris In: Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts and Solutions, Eds J.M. Coe and D.B. Rogers. New York: Springer Verlag, pp. 187-202.(top)