Marine Debris in

Alaska

Volunteers loading debris into a boat on a remote Alaskan shoreline.
This region includes all of Alaska.

The marine debris problem is different in Alaska than in other parts of the United States. With an extensive, rugged, and remote coastline, longer than the rest of the United States combined, addressing marine debris in Alaska requires innovative and creative approaches. Since 2006, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has worked with partners to conduct debris research, removal, and prevention, directly funding more than 35 projects in Alaska that have removed over 900 metric tons of debris from shorelines. On many beaches, removal efforts are paired with surveys to determine debris re-accumulation rates and track changes in the types of debris that come ashore.

A bead of polystyrene foam.

Hot Topics

  • Lose the Loop! Derelict nets, line, traps, and packing bands can entangle and entrap marine species, such as Alaska's Steller sea lions and northern fur seals, indiscriminately.

  • Marine debris can be found even in the most remote parts of Alaska, including the Arctic. A joint project with National Park Service, NOAA, and Clemson University showed concentrations of microplastics in sand collected at two Arctic sites was comparable to two major U.S. cities.

  • The Arctic Council has made marine debris (or “marine litter”) a focus during the 2019-2021 Icelandic chairmanship. NOAA is supporting efforts by Council multiple working groups to understand the state of the science, create guidelines for monitoring, and coordinate future actions for marine debris in the Arctic.

Image Gallery

Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean

Video

FAQs

The NOAA Marine Debris Program offers several nationwide, competitive funding opportunities for marine debris projects. These include: marine debris removal grants; prevention through education and outreach grants; and research grants. Learn more about these opportunities.

Abandoned and Derelict Vessel information for states and territories in the Alaska region: