Assessing Marine Debris in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Steep cliffs along an ocean shoreline.

The NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuary Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary collected and analyzed data to better understand the marine debris problem in the Sanctuary.

Type of Project: Research

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2020  - March 2023

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in collaboration with California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, assessed and analyzed available data to support decision-making and management efforts related to marine debris in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

What is the project and why is it important?
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary) is one of the largest national marine sanctuaries in the United States with diverse marine wildlife and ecosystems. Unfortunately, the Sanctuary also experiences the issue of marine debris. In order to address and develop solutions to the impacts of marine debris in the Sanctuary, more information is needed about the problem of plastic pollution and land-based litter. 

The NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in collaboration with California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, compiled historic and existing data collected on marine debris in the Sanctuary, compared that data, and identified any debris trends and hotspots. This effort is important to understand the overall impact of marine debris in the Sanctuary, informing its management, and ultimately, reducing marine debris. 

Partners published a final report and worked together with Surfrider Foundation, Save Our Shores, NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP), Downtown Streets, and Ocean Conservancy to identify the prevalent types of marine debris and their distribution along the shoreline of the Sanctuary. This detailed report analyzes the findings in order to assess potential sources and transport mechanisms for marine debris. 

These recommendations will be shared with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and the public to reduce marine debris impacting the Sanctuary.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.