Marine Debris in the

Great Lakes

Plastic on Lake Erie shoreline.
This region includes Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and the Great Lakes shorelines in Pennsylvania, and New York

Marine debris spoils the unique beauty of the Great Lakes region: a complex system of habitats, wetlands, rivers, and tributaries. Debris in the Great Lakes ranges from small items, including microplastics and other litter, to large abandoned and derelict vessels. No matter the size or type, debris harms the environment, wildlife and natural resources, creates health and safety hazards, and threatens the Great Lakes’ robust recreational fishing and boating economy. Since 2006, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has worked with partners in the region to prevent marine debris from entering the Great Lakes through education, outreach, and removal projects.


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.

Yes. Marine debris is a global issue and all types of marine debris are found in the Great Lakes, including microplastics.

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