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Water: Marine Debris

What You Can Do at Sea

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At Sea

Boaters, fishermen, and marina owners can play a part in controlling the amount of marine debris that ends up in our waterways and oceans. The tips below can help you to reduce waste and marine debris while at sea and in port.


Dispose of trash properly

Did You Know?
Over 3 million cigarette butts were found during the 2008 International Coastal Cleanup! Always place extinguished cigarette butts in a proper disposal container.

At sea, make sure to follow proper disposal procedures and regulations. If possible, bring trash back to shore for disposal in garbage and recycling receptacles. If you plan on being at sea for an extended period of time, look for ways to reduce the trash you produce onboard by limiting the use of disposable products, choosing products with less packaging, and removing product packaging prior to going underway.

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Properly stow and secure all equipment and trash

Make sure all trash bins and recycling receptacles on the vessel have lids and are properly secured to the vessel. Any loose equipment should be stowed and secured when not in use. If not stored and secured properly, loose trash and equipment can become marine debris in poor sea and weather conditions.

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Support environmentally friendly marinas and ports

Does EPA Monitor Marine Debris At Sea?
EPA is starting to use the Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) BOLD (PDF) (2 pp, 245K, About PDF) to conduct surveys of marine debris at sea.

Try to use marinas and ports with properly maintained trash and recycling disposal facilities. Environmentally sound marinas help to prevent non-point source pollution (Marinas/Boating), which results from improper oil, fuel, and wastewater management practices.

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Participate in fishing gear incentive programs

Derelict fishing gear is a common type of ocean-based marine debris. It can endanger wildlife and safe navigation. Incentive programs can discourage purposeful loss of gear at sea by offering free disposal, recycling, or compensation for collection. Examples of such programs are listed below:

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