Marine Debris in the


Debris on the banks of the Potomac River.
This region includes the East Coast of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia

The Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States is a large, dynamic, and diverse place. Home to over 10,000 miles of coastline and spanning from Virginia to New York, it features major metropolitan areas, iconic bays and estuaries, and an incredible array of wildlife and habitats. The Mid-Atlantic provides a home, refuge, and nursery habitat for a variety of species and supports a vibrant coastal economy - including tourism, fisheries, and recreation. Unfortunately, marine debris has extensive impacts on the regional economy and the environment of the Mid-Atlantic. In partnership with local agencies, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and regional communities, the NOAA Marine Debris Program works to assess existing and emerging issues, implement prevention projects, plan removal efforts, and foster collaboration across the region.

A derelict vessel overgrown with marsh grasses.

Regional Topics


  • Balloon litter has been found across the Mid-Atlantic region. A partnership of states created resources to help prevent the intentional release of balloons and reduce the impact of balloon litter on beaches and waterways across the region.
  • A collaboration of organizations created a toolkit for how to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles, which were found to be in high use at several Northern Virginia high schools. 
  • A joint project with National Park Service, NOAA, and Clemson University showed concentrations of microplastics in sand collected at National Park units across the United States, including several in New York.
  • Place-based learning can help make marine debris prevention more tangible for an audience, especially schoolkids. See how Spencer the Sprout helps bring marine debris alive for a community in Maryland.

Image Gallery

Stormwater Sam



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.