After years of statewide heightened awareness and activity on marine debris issues from extensive volunteer cleanup efforts to marine debris policy advocacy such as bag and microbead bans and plastic reduction initiatives, Oregon is working in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program to develop the first ever statewide action plan on marine debris. This comes as good news to Surfrider Chapters throughout the state who have worked tirelessly on this issue for years, positioning themselves as leaders in volunteer cleanup efforts, data collection, rapid response cleanup protocols and advocacy for marine debris reduction policies at the local, state and national level.
Over the years, Oregon’s agencies, NGOs, and industry have done remarkable work to prevent and remove marine debris on our beaches and waterways. The spirit of these groups interest to protect Oregon beaches was probably best understood following the 2011 tsunami event in Japan, when heightened awareness and concern over potential marine debris from the disaster initiated strong collaboration throughout all of these entities to plan and respond to increased debris on our beaches. Further, our beaches are etched into Oregon culture and history, from Beach Bill advocacy to Oregon’s historical first in-the-nation and ongoing statewide volunteer cleanups.
NOAA has worked in Hawaii to partner with stakeholders on a statewide action plan, as well as the Great Lakes, but Oregon will be the first state on the west coast to embark on such an effort in collaboration with NOAA. Additionally, Surfrider staff worked within Oregon’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) to advocate for and support statewide prioritization of the effort (Surfrider policy staff, Charlie Plybon is chairing the OPAC workgroup on this effort). An Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan will create the framework for additional collaboration and action and a workshop to bring together the Oregon entities working on marine debris is the first and important step in this action planning process.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program, Ocean Policy Advisory Council, Surfrider Foundation, OR Parks and Recreation, SOLVE, OR Department of State Lands and OR Sea Grant have collaborated in planning this initial 2-day workshop for the action planning which will be held in April. The workshop is action oriented and not just for information exchange and will be the first step in advancing shared goals, objectives and strategic actions for Oregon’s first ever Marine Debris Action Plan. For more information and background on the action planning process, download the informational background document below: