"Turning the Tide on Trash - Ocean Conservancy"


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2014 R E P O RT
2014 R E P O RT
Ocean Conservancy educates and
empowers citizens to take action on
A Message From the President and CEO
behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic
to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean
Taking Action to Tackle Trash
Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for
Coordinating Cleanups
our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides
policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and
Bringing Together Volunteers Worldwide
its wildlife for future generations.
Tracking Trash on the Water
Engaging Our Partners
In partnership with volunteer
The Search for Scientific Solutions
organizations and individuals around
the globe, Ocean Conservancy’s
Organizing Data
International Coastal Cleanup engages people to
2013 Ocean Trash Index
remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways,
identify the sources of debris and change the behaviors
2013 Cleanup Coordinators
that cause marine debris in the first place.
A M E S S A G E F r O M T h E P r E S I D E n T A n D C E O
Shaping Solutions
for Trash Free Seas
My first International Coastal Cleanup experience as CEO of
Ocean Conservancy this past September was both inspiring and
sad. Sad because, with gloves and a bucket, I found our stretch
of coast thoroughly inundated by waste of all kinds. Inspiring
because of the many volunteers surrounding me who were
committed to keeping the ocean clean and healthy.
Ocean trash truly is a global problem that affects human
health and safety, endangers marine wildlife and costs states
and nations countless millions in wasted resources and lost
revenue. At its core, however, ocean trash is not an ocean problem; it is a people problem –
perpetuated by the often unwitting practices that industry and people have adopted over time.
But I am convinced we can solve it if we have the audacity to confront the problem head-on.
For the past 28 years, Ocean Conservancy has inspired millions of volunteers, as well as industry
players, the world over to take action by removing and recording trash during our International Coastal
Cleanup. We are proud to report that last fall nearly 650,000 volunteers in 92 countries and locations
joined the effort by gathering more than 12.3 million pounds from our beaches and waterways.
I am deeply proud of this volunteer effort. But our work has just begun. We need to learn how
waste – particularly plastics – ends up in the ocean, how it hurts people and animals, and how we
can devise global solutions to this growing problem.
We’re on it. We are working with an international group of scientists to figure out answers to
the big questions of “Where does it come from?” and “What harm does it do?” Preliminary results,
I can tell you, are deeply concerning and include the sheer amount of plastic that is entering the
ocean every year. Stay tuned for results later this year.
In addition, two of our own marine scientists joined expeditions in Alaska and Maine to survey
ocean trash. And we are working with a group of waste management specialists to understand
the most promising strategies for meaningful and global reduction of trash – and the role that we,
as ocean advocates, must play.
Last fall, we also hosted our third meeting of the Trash Free Seas Alliance
, an Ocean
Conservancy-led forum uniting leaders from industry, academia and the conservation community
around the common goal of tackling marine debris. As we further our work with the Alliance in the
coming year, we are optimistic that a combination of scientific research and industry commitment
can spur lasting systemic solutions.
I invite you to read this report to see further how our collective efforts are leading to progress
on the pervasive problem of marine debris. Many challenges still remain, but I am convinced the
tide has begun to turn on trash. All of us at Ocean Conservancy remain confident that with the
support of our partners and members, we will eliminate ocean trash once and for all. We hope you
will join us on this quest.
Kind regards,
Andreas Merkl
President and CEO
Ocean Conservancy
Taking Action
Tackle Trash
rash has infiltrated all reaches of our ocean, causing
people to engage in action for trash free seas.
innumerable adverse impacts on ocean life and coastal
In 2013, scientists and industry players from the Trash
communities. The problem can seem overwhelming, but it
Free Seas Alliance
came together in search of collaborative
is entirely preventable. That’s why Ocean Conservancy is
solutions. International experts at the national Center for
engaging its network of partners and volunteers to stop the
Ecological Analysis and Synthesis continued to assess the
flow of trash at the source before it has a chance to reach
scale and scope of the marine debris problem. Volunteers
the water and threaten wildlife, or soil our beaches and
from the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project also embarked
depress local economies.
on a pilot project to protect sea turtles by examining their
During the past quarter century, volunteers have
interactions with ocean trash.
assembled through the International Coastal Cleanup to
By taking a holistic approach to tackling trash, instead of
improve the condition of beaches and waterways and raise
relying entirely on cleanups, together we can move one step
awareness about the trash problem. now, ocean advocates
closer to lasting solutions.
worldwide are developing practical approaches that
strengthen the science, promote sound policies and empower
Protecting Sea Turtles From Ocean Trash
Sea turtles, one of the oldest creatures
are apt to tread, hatchlings mount a
and protecting sea turtles from the
on Earth, are severely imperiled. no
long and arduous migration to the water
dangers of marine debris that litters
marine animal is more susceptible to
to survive. The faster they reach the
nesting beaches.
the range of threats posed by plastics
water, the more likely they are to live,
Using a modified version of the
and other trash. They often ingest
but physical objects like trash prolong
International Coastal Cleanup’s
plastic bags by mistaking them for
migration. Debris diverts hatchlings from
debris-monitoring protocol, volunteers
jellyfish or become entangled in nets,
the shortest route, which can result in
removed trash from sea turtle nesting
line and other debris. Young hatchlings
hatchlings following a path parallel to
beaches in conjunction with their
face incredibly low survival odds. From
the ocean that leads to death.
existing sea turtle monitoring efforts
eggs laid in nests where beachgoers
In 2013, Ocean Conservancy
and recorded the findings on the
partnered with the Wrightsville Beach
data form. Then, Ocean Conservancy
Sea Turtle Project and Wrightsville
scientists analyzed the information and
Beach—Keep It Clean in north
are using it to refine sampling protocols
Carolina to launch a pilot project
and expand the scope and scale of the
aimed at better understanding,
monitoring effort in 2014.
2013 TRaSh FREE SEaS
New data form is
Results from 2012 International
Coastal Cleanup released
(see page 14)
Ocean Conservancy partners with
Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle
Project and Wrightsville Beach—
Keep It Clean to begin pilot
project on protecting sea turtles
from ocean trash
(see page 2)
Good mate:
Charting a Clean Course for boaters
Ocean Conservancy’s Good Mate program, created in collaboration
with the Brunswick Public Foundation, promotes the best practical
steps boaters and marinas can take to preserve the health of the
ocean and waterways.
here are a few Good Mate tips for green boating:
Use nonhazardous materials when maintaining
and repairing your boat. If it’s hazardous to
In 2013
you, it’s hazardous to the environment.
Participate in oil recycling programs
to deliver oil to designated collection
sites such as service stations.
Choose anchor sites carefully, and
miles of waterways
use proper techniques to avoid
and collected
damaging sensitive habitats.
pounds of trash.
For more Good Mate tips, visit
Ocean Conservancy’s Conservation
without laying eggs.
debris, especially plastics, poses to sea
Biologist and Marine Debris Specialist
Volunteers removed approximately
turtles. This project is allowing us to
nicholas Mallos and Program
7,200 pieces of trash from the same
think about new ways to augment sea
Coordinator Allison Schutes, along with
zones. The abundance of children’s toys –
turtle protection and mitigate harmful
Ginger Taylor of the Wrightsville Beach
which accounted for 7 percent of all items
conditions for turtle populations in
Sea Turtle Project, presented findings
found – is particularly worrying, because
municipalities and communities where
from this pilot at the 34th Annual
debris items of similar size and durability
collaborative monitoring takes place.
Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and
have been proven to significantly alter
Ocean Conservancy is expanding this
Conservation in new Orleans this spring.
hatchlings’ treks to the water.
project in 2014, working with partners
During the four-month pilot, about
As the project grows, amassed data
down the Atlantic seaboard, on both
700 hatchlings were born from nine
will provide an enhanced understanding
coasts of Florida, and around the Gulf
nests in six nesting zones. There were
of the ways trash impacts nesting sea
of Mexico. In addition, potential partners
also six “false crawls” – instances
turtles and hatchlings. These findings
from as far away as Central America,
when sea turtle mothers move slowly
also help increase awareness among
Kenya and Malaysia have indicated
up a beach but return to the water
beachgoers of the threats marine
interest in collaborating on similar efforts.
Ocean Conservancy
Conservation Biologist
Trash Free Seas
Ocean Conservancy’s
Scientific Working Group
hosts third meeting
and Marine Debris
Coordinator Allison
28th International
on Marine Debris meets
of Trash Free Seas
Specialist Nicholas Mallos
Schutes joins Rozalia
Coastal Cleanup events
at the National Center for
in Sausalito,
travels to Alaska to survey
Project on a research
held worldwide
Ecological Analysis and
plastics with research
expedition to evaluate
Synthesis to finalize its
(see page 12)
team from Expedition
marine debris in the Gulf
evaluation of the state of
of Maine
marine debris science
(see page 8)
(see page 9)