With marine debris and plastic pollution being recognized as a priority ocean issue for Oregon, Surfrider Foundation is excited to share that the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) recently released the biennial update to Oregon’s Marine Debris Action Plan. Given plastic pollution, which comprises the majority of marine debris, is becoming a rapidly evolving social and environmental issue around the world, Oregon partners agreed that updating the Action Plan on a biennial basis was critical to keeping the latest science, programs and policies up to date for Oregon. For example, microplastics, previously not identified in the plan, are now identified as a key issue within the updated Action Plan – which includes goals, strategies and corresponding actions to reduce all types of marine debris in Oregon.

The action plan itself is the result of a collaborative effort between NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP) and Oregon partners, including representatives from governments, tribes, non-profits, academia, and the private sector beginning back in 2016.  Surfrider Foundation played a significant leadership role in developing the Ocean Policy Advisory Council’s prioritization of this process starting back in 2015. Through a series of workshops in 2017, the Oregon marine debris community finalized the Action Plan to facilitate more collaborative reduction of marine debris in the state and align Oregon with greater federal support from NOAA’s MDP – who supported and facilitated the process.

Participants from the 2019 workshop to update Oreogn’s Marine Debris Action Plan – Photo: NOAA

In the two years since, we have made remarkable progress in Oregon on many of the actions listed in the Action Plan, including: Development of marine debris research priorities for Oregon – many already in process and supporting graduate research, the execution of a statewide awareness day recognized by the Governor’s office, a statewide marine debris educator’s forum, the mapping of derelict vessels/debris on inland waterways, full implementation of rules for the Submerged Land Enhancement fund (to support removal projects) and the removal of several priority vessels. These are just a few of the actions from the first two years that have advanced within Oregon’s Marine Debris Action plan.

To keep the six-year plan current, partners convened for a workshop in March 2019 to discuss achievements, lessons learned and to review and, if needed, modify ongoing actions and identified future actions. In this fashion, “the Action Plan itself is really a living and breathing document for coordinating marine debris removal in Oregon,” says Nir Barnea, the MDP’s Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator. The 2019 updated Action Plan summarized the input and insight of workshop participants, as well as the contribution of other partners. The plan, and related documents from Oregon’s process such as research priorities and workshop proceedings can be found on the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan website within NOAA MDP.

Oregon Marine Debris practitioners, agency staff and local managers engage in 2019 planning workshop. Photo: NOAA

For more information on NOAA’s MDP or the Oregon’s Marine Debris Action Plan, contact Nir Barnea, the MDP’s Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator who played a significant leadership role for NOAA in Oregon and other Pacific states’ marine debris state plans.