noaa marine debris workshop

On February 20th and 21st, Surfrider Chicago joined with roughly 40 individuals representing over 30 U.S. and Canadian governmental, not-for-profit, higher education, and corporate entities in an effort to shape the Great Lakes Land-Based Marine Debris Action Plan, which is an initiative to regionally support The Honolulu Strategy, a results-oriented framework of action with the overarching goal to reduce impacts of marine debris over the next ten years. 

The meeting was held at the US EPA Region 5 in downtown Chicago and, among other notable participants, Nancy Wallace, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, and Dr. Sherri A. “Sam” Mason of SUNY Fredonia, the researcher that collaborated with 5 Gyres to conduct the first-ever survey for plastic pollution within the open waters of the Great Lakes, were present. The principle focus of the workshop was to review and refine goals and objectives developed through the May 2013 Great Lakes Land-Based Marine Debris Workshop held in Cleveland, OH, and to begin to flesh-out implementation strategies. 

Key feedback from Surfrider Chicago included the need to place emphasis on waste reduction strategies, including consumer education about making better choices, and establishing targets that are logically sequenced so that all plan objectives can be achieved on time. A draft Great Lakes Land-Based Marine Debris Action Plan reflecting input received from participating stakeholders will be circulated for review in either March or April 2014 and Surfrider Chicago will continue to participate in shaping the final plan. We will also need to establish implementation strategies that Surfrider Chicago, and perhaps other Great Lakes chapters, can take ownership of.