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

Discover the Issue

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 ocean 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. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy, and potentially human safety and health.

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

Oversimplified graphic of "garbage patches" in the North Pacific Ocean

Learn more about what garbage patches are, their impacts on the ocean, and what we can do about them. 

Learn more about the different types of debris, including plastic, derelict fishing gear, and abandoned and derelict vessels.
Turtle entangled in net
Understand marine debris impacts, including how it harms wildlife, habitat, and the economy.
Workers lift heavy debris from beach.
Learn how you can help solve the marine debris problem.