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Trash Free Seas

Marine debris (plastic and other garbage in our oceans) is a huge and growing problem. Marine debris is estimated to kill millions of seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. In all, 270 ocean species are affected by entanglement or ingestion by the roughly 14 billion pounds of trash that flow into our oceans each year.

Since 2006, NOAA has been running a Marine Debris Program in partnership with the Coast Guard. This program uses research, engagement and education to better understand the problem, and to prevent it by changing human behaviors. The program also ventures out into the ocean to remove existing marine debris, reclaiming destructive fishing gear, and other garbage.

In 2012, the Senate unanimously passed The Marine Debris Act. Two ocean champions, Senators (D-AK) and (D-WA) provided leadership on the Senate bill. Ocean champion Congressman (D-CA) led the across the finish line a few weeks earlier. The bill was signed into law on December 20, 2012 as part of the Coast Guard Maritime Transportation Act ().