Virginia Releases State Marine Debris Reduction Plan
A derelict crab trap contains dead blue crabs.
Derelict crab traps are a type of marine debris in the Chesapeake Bay.

DECEMBER 16, 2014 -- Virginia, like all coastal states in the United States, has its share of marine debris challenges. Through the initiative and perseverance of a small and talented team, Virginia now has a marine debris reduction plan in place, and it is the first of its kind on the East Coast.

In 2012, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program began scoping out a framework and in less than two years, they developed a Marine Debris Reduction Plan to reduce the amount of marine debris from land-based and water-based sources in Virginia. The writing team worked with representatives from federal, state, and local agencies, academia, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders to determine feasible and realistic short and long term actions to reduce and prevent marine debris.

The plan is centered around five main goals: leadership, prevention, interception, innovation, and removal and clean up. In the near-term, the state plans to focus on specific actions to jump start the initiative, including establishing a Virginia marine debris advisory committee, implementing a balloon litter reduction campaign, analyzing existing litter policies, and identifying sources of revenue to sustain marine debris and litter prevention programs.

“Those who live and work on our nation’s coasts can make a difference in the marine debris problem, and this team has done it with thoughtful planning and hard work,” said Jason Rolfe, NOAA Marine Debris Program Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator and member of the project leadership team. “This plan will build the momentum in Virginia for keeping marine debris off the coastline and hopefully catalyze action in the entire region.”