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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century Summary The debris of modern living frequently finds its way into our waterways and down to the ocean. Some enters as intentional or accidental discharges from ships and platforms; the rest is transported to the sea by rivers, wind, sewers, and beachgoers. Given the diversity and abundance of sources, the persistent nature of most plastics, and the ability of tides and currents to carry debris long distances, marine debris is a global concern that is likely to increase in the 21st century. The impacts of debris are varied. In 1988, it was estimated that New Jersey lost between $379 million and $3.6 billion in tourism and other revenue as a result of debris washing ashore. Impacts to marine organisms are often difficult to quantify but are well known. Ingested marine debris, particularly plastics, has been reported in necropsies of birds, turtles, marine mammals, fish, and squid. There is concern that plastics are able to adsorb, concentrate, and deliver toxic compounds to animals that ingest them. Derelict fishing gear (DFG) and other debris are known to entangle and injure or kill marine organisms. Studies on population-scale impacts of entanglement and ingestion are few and largely inconclusive. Nevertheless, these effects are troubling and may represent unacceptable threats to some species. For example, entanglement of Hawaiian monk seals, the most endangered seal in the United States, is arguably the most significant impediment to that species’ recovery. Marine debris regulation falls largely under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL) Annex V, which entered into force in 1988.
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century This Convention places restrictions on the disposal of garbage, based on garbage type and distance from land, and completely prohibits the disposal of plastics at sea. Yet despite these and other prohibitions, 20 years later, there are still large quantities of debris, including plastics, fouling beaches and oceans. STUDY ORIGIN In 2006, Congress enacted the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act. Its stated purposes are to identify, determine sources of, assess, reduce, and prevent marine debris and its impacts; revive interagency coordination efforts through an Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee (IMDCC); and establish a federal clearinghouse for marine debris information. Within this Act, Congress requested that the National Research Council (NRC) undertake a study to assess the effectiveness of international and national measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and its impacts (see Box S.1 for the full statement of task). Given its charge, the committee that wrote this report focused its efforts on the debris discharged at sea from a variety of maritime activities BOX S.1 Statement of Task An ad hoc committee will be formed to examine the effectiveness of international and national measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and its impact. The committee will prepare a report that includes An evaluation of international and domestic implementation of MARPOL Annex V and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (33 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) and identification of cost-effective, innovative approaches that could be taken to improve implementation and compliance. A review and assessment of technologies, strategies, and management practices for further reducing the impact of marine debris, including derelict fishing gear. As part of this review, the committee will examine the International Mari-time Organization’s Guidelines for the Implementation of Annex V of MARPOL and recommend additional federal or international actions that could be taken to further reduce debris and its impacts. An evaluation of the role of floating fish aggregation devices in the generation of marine debris and existing legal mechanisms to reduce impacts of such debris, focusing on impacts in the Western Pacific and Central Pacific regions. An overview of the existing federal statutes on marine debris (including land-based sources) with a description of the responsibilities of the designated federal agencies.
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century including commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boating, and cruise ships. However, because it is unrealistic and impractical to differentiate between garbage discharged at sea and garbage that is discharged on land but winds up in the sea, this report addresses the ocean-based sources in the greater context of the marine debris problem. The committee recommends many specific actions that can be taken by decision makers and managers to spur a major paradigm shift toward a goal of “zero waste discharge” into the marine environment that the committee believes will be needed to effectively prevent and reduce marine debris. In addition, the report provides a specific review of DFG and abandoned fish aggregating devices (FADs). Many of the recommendations in this report are not new. The ongoing problems with MARPOL Annex V and its implementation and recommendations for improvements were identified in the 1995 NRC report Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea and have been investigated in a number of other reports. However, a review by the U.S. General Accounting Office in 2000 found that many of these recommendations have not been fully implemented and some have not been implemented at all, indicating an ongoing problem with implementation of measures to prevent and reduce marine debris. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In its analysis, the committee identified four overarching areas in which additional emphasis is needed to adequately address the marine debris problem. Broadly, they center on (1) marine debris management, leadership, and coordination; (2) information and metrics with which to assess the effectiveness of current measures or efficiently direct future efforts; (3) port reception facilities for shoreside disposal; and (4) the distinct aspects of managing fishing gear as a source of marine debris. Salient supporting recommendations are presented under each overarching recommendation; additional recommendations and the basis for all of the findings and recommendations are included in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. Management, Leadership, and Coordination Despite measures to prevent and reduce marine debris, evidence shows that the problem continues and will likely worsen. This indicates that current measures for preventing and reducing marine debris are inadequate. Responsibilities and resources are scattered across organizations and management regimes, slowing progress on the problem. Improvements will require changes to the regulatory regime as well as nonregulatory incentives. At both the international and national levels,
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century there needs to be better leadership, coordination, and integration of mandates and resources. Overarching Recommendation: The United States and the international maritime community should adopt a goal of zero discharge of waste into the marine environment. The United States should take the lead in the international arena in this effort and in coordinating regional management of marine debris with other coastal states. IMDCC should develop a strategic plan for domestic marine debris management. Performance measures should be developed by the United States and the international maritime community that allow for assessment of the effectiveness of current and future marine debris prevention and reduction measures (page 86). Regulatory Structure Under MARPOL Annex V, discharges are permitted unless specifically prohibited. This approach does not provide sufficient incentive to encourage innovation and adoption of source reduction and waste minimization measures to prevent garbage pollution in the marine environment. Recommendation: The U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should, through the ongoing review process, advocate that IMO amend MARPOL Annex V to include a general prohibition on discharge of garbage at sea with limited exceptions based on specific vessel operating scenarios and adequacy of shoreside reception facilities. In addition, the U.S. delegation should request that IMO review the Guidelines for the Implementation of Annex V of MARPOL and, where transferrable, amend MARPOL Annex V to include waste minimization and source reduction concepts from the Guidelines into mandatory requirements for vessels, such as within garbage management plan requirements. The United States and other parties to MARPOL Annex V should incorporate similar requirements into their domestic regulations for vessels engaged in both international and domestic trade (page 61). Leadership and Coordination Although Congress has charged federal agencies with addressing the marine debris problem and has called for interagency coordination, leadership and governance remain diffuse and ineffective. Current mitigation efforts are episodic and crisis driven. There is a need for a reliable, dedicated funding stream to support mitigation efforts and
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century a national strategy and framework for identifying priorities for removal of marine debris. Recommendation: IMDCC or Congress should clearly designate a lead agency to expand cooperative marine debris programs, including but not limited to land-based marine debris, derelict fishing gear, shipborne waste, and abandoned vessels. IMDCC should develop a national strategy and national standards and priorities for dealing with all elements of marine debris. The strategic plan should include a clear identification of lead agencies, an implementation schedule, and performance benchmarks. In addition, IMDCC should identify funding mechanisms and reliable funding streams to support marine debris mitigation activities (pages 78 and 85). Achieving Zero Discharge There is a need to focus additional attention on potential waste before and after it reaches the ship. Zero discharge, source reduction, and waste minimization practices have been implemented in industrial settings ashore for a number of years. Some vessels have successfully adopted zero or minimal discharge practices based on these successful shoreside models. Recommendation: The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should promulgate best management practices that reflect the maximum practicable extent to which ships can operate without the need to dispose of garbage at sea. Development of these best management practices should be based on successful zero discharge, source reduction, and waste minimization practices, coupled with an understanding of the technical and financial abilities of different vessel types to retain different forms of waste. IMDCC should support the adoption of voluntary zero waste discharge standards and implementation of these best management practices to achieve that goal. EPA should take the lead in coordinating with IMDCC to work with academia, industry, and nongovernmental organizations to develop industry standards and guidelines for source reduction, reuse, and recycling for solid wastes that are utilized and generated during normal ship operations (page 80). Information and Metrics for Assessing Effectiveness Although there is clear evidence that marine debris is a problem, there has not been a coordinated or targeted effort to thoroughly document
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century and understand its sources, fates, and impacts. Mechanisms for objective evaluation are needed to judge the efficacy of management and mitigation measures; yet metrics for this evaluation are lacking. This confounds the ability to prioritize mitigation efforts and to assess the effectiveness of measures that have been implemented. Overarching Recommendation: IMDCC should, through planning and prioritization, target research to understand the sources, fates, and impacts of marine debris. It should support the establishment of scalable and statistically rigorous protocols that allow monitoring at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. These protocols should contain evaluative metrics that allow an assessment of progress in marine debris mitigation. The United States, through leadership in the international arena, should provide technical assistance and support for the establishment of additional monitoring and research programs worldwide (page 47). Research Diverse research has been conducted on marine debris; however, there is no overall needs assessment available to guide this research. As a result, research completed is rarely integrated at the regional, national, international, or even local level. Therefore, there is little opportunity for expanding the understanding of marine debris by fitting these individual activities into a congruous whole. Recommendation: An information needs assessment should be conducted at the national level by IMDCC with input from stakeholders. A detailed national marine debris research priorities plan should be developed from the results. This research plan should direct future federal funding of a suite of marine debris studies that, when taken together, will provide a comprehensive characterization of the marine debris problem. Additional studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and to provide useful guidance to managers and decision makers for debris mitigation. IMDCC should sponsor and facilitate research in debris abundance and fluxes, and ecological and socioeconomic impacts of marine debris (pages 41 and 44). Monitoring and Data Management Well-designed and statistically rigorous longitudinal marine debris monitoring programs are needed at a variety of spatial and temporal
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century scales. However, standardization of protocols and databases is necessary to ensure that the results of various surveys are comparable. Recommendation: Long-term marine debris monitoring programs should be established by IMDCC (for the United States) and appropriate international organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (for global monitoring). These programs should allow for statistically valid analysis of marine debris quantities and trends as a metric of the effectiveness of measures to prevent and reduce marine debris. To the extent practical, these programs should adopt a suite of common design characteristics and protocols to facilitate cross comparisons and meta-analyses. The marine debris information clearinghouse should be given high priority. It should be housed and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) but available to the public and researchers at large. Data generated by federally funded research should be submitted to this clearinghouse in a timely manner (pages 45 and 47). Enforcement and Compliance Data Forensic analysis of enforcement and compliance information is a necessary tool for evaluating the effectiveness of the implementation of MARPOL Annex V; however, there is no comprehensive system in place for collecting and analyzing information for this purpose at either the domestic or the international level. Recommendation: USCG, in coordination with IMDCC, should develop a program to analyze the effectiveness of domestic regulations to reduce marine debris. Where feasible, it should utilize recordkeeping, enforcement, and other data that are already being collected and should investigate additional metrics that may be useful in measuring effectiveness. The U.S. delegation should recommend that IMO, in its ongoing review of MARPOL Annex V, incorporate this program into a global analysis of the effectiveness of MARPOL Annex V (page 83). Port Reception Facilities To prevent the discharge of waste at sea, ships must have the ability and incentives to properly dispose of waste onshore at port reception facilities. The lack of understanding of vessel waste streams and the inadequacy of port reception facilities to accept and properly manage vessel waste is a serious impediment to the prevention and reduction of
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century marine debris, including DFG. Ships continue to face shoreside disposal challenges at some berths in countries that have formally communicated the availability of adequate reception facilities. Overarching Recommendation: To achieve the goal of zero discharge, ships need to be able to discharge their waste at ports and should have incentives (or at least they should not face disincentives) to do so. Domestically, USCG should establish minimum qualitative and quantitative standards for port adequacy, provide technical assistance for ports to achieve standards, encourage ports to provide incentives to vessel operators for discharging their waste ashore, and ensure that there are adequate reception facilities and alternative disposal options (see Appendix E) for waste fishing gear. Internationally, the U.S. delegation to IMO should exert its leadership in the ongoing MARPOL Annex V review process to ensure that similar amendments are incorporated into Annex V (page 86). Regulatory Structure While parties to MARPOL Annex V are required to ensure adequate port reception facilities, the standards for adequacy are unclear. Although the Guidelines for the Implementation of Annex V of MARPOL provides additional guidance, it does not establish minimum standards. Recommendation: The U.S. delegation to IMO should advocate that MARPOL Annex V be amended to include explicit qualitative and quantitative standards for adequate port reception facilities, and that IMO provide assistance to achieve these standards. Port managers and users should be included in the development of clearer standards. In addition, the U.S. delegation should encourage IMO to incorporate incentives for proper onshore waste disposal in these standards. In the United States, USCG should incorporate these minimum standards into their Certificate of Adequacy (COA) program and should encourage ports to provide incentives to vessel operators for discharging their waste ashore (page 63). Integrated Solid Waste Management Despite past recommendations and legislative mandates for collaboration, there continues to be a legal disconnect and jurisdictional discontinuity between solid waste management mandates afloat and ashore. There is no coordination between the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), which regulates U.S. waste management and disposal, and
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century the shipboard solid waste management plans or port and terminal waste management and COAs. Recommendation: Specific performance standards should be developed by USCG in collaboration with EPA for COAs; approval of port COAs should be conditioned on formal coordination between ports and solid waste management systems based on the RCRA waste management hierarchy and best management practices and guidance developed by EPA. Performance standards and COA and port discharge requirements should be based on an understanding of the capacity and capabilities of vessel types and waste streams, not just a hypothetical capability to handle wastes. The private sector and nongovernmental organizations should be included as partners in these efforts. EPA should work with state and local solid waste management programs and port and terminal operators to support a seamless connection and accountability for transfer of ship-generated garbage into the terrestrial waste management system (pages 78 and 79). Managing Fishing Gear While all maritime sectors contribute to ocean-based marine debris, there has been growing concern about the contribution of fishing vessels to this problem. Both DFG and FADs were specifically referenced in the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act of 2006 as subjects for further review by this committee. DFG and abandoned FADs fall under MARPOL Annex V (and corresponding domestic laws) and fisheries management treaties and regulations. This overlap has complicated implementation of measures to prevent and reduce these sources of debris. Current regulations do not include accountability measures for gear loss, and fishermen and fisheries management organizations have few incentives and several disincentives to take responsibility for the impacts and for cleanup. Inadequate port facilities and high disposal costs are an impediment to the proper disposal of waste gear and DFG. Overarching Recommendation: MARPOL Annex V (and corresponding domestic law) and international and domestic fisheries treaties and regulations should be revised to clearly identify and prohibit preventable losses of fishing gear, including FADs. IMO, fisheries management councils and organizations, and other relevant entities should incorporate gear accountability measures and facilitate proper disposal of fishing gear, including FADs (page 140).
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century Regulatory Structure MARPOL Annex V does not adequately manage discharges of fishing gear into the marine environment. The exemption for “the accidental loss of synthetic fishing nets, provided that all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent such loss,” does not provide sufficient guidance to regulators and the fishing industry. Moreover, because of minimum length and gross tonnage exemptions, MARPOL Annex V does not apply to a substantial number of fishing vessels; therefore, these vessels are exempt from many requirements that would facilitate enforcement of prohibitions against the at-sea disposal of synthetic fishing gear. Recommendation: The U.S. delegation should exercise its influence in the correspondence group and on IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee to amend MARPOL Annex V to provide explicit definitions of “accidental losses” and “reasonable precautions” with respect to synthetic fishing nets; require placards, garbage management plans, and record books for all commercial, artisanal, and sport fishing charter vessels to the extent practicable; and require additional practices that minimize the probability of loss and maximize the probability of recovery of fishing gear from the ocean (page 102). USCG and NOAA have rulemaking authority to prevent the generation of DFG under their respective legislative mandates, yet neither has exercised that authority. Recommendation: Congress should direct USCG and NOAA to undertake a joint rulemaking to develop rules that require commercial and recreational fishing vessels to properly dispose of all waste fishing gear and to take specific precautions to prevent accidental loss of fishing gear (page 106). There has been confusion over the legal status of FADs in relation to marine debris. However, under MARPOL and Annex V definitions, FADs become DFG when the captain of the vessel that last deployed the FAD decides not to retrieve it. This constitutes an illegal disposal under MARPOL Annex V and the U.S. Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) if the FAD includes synthetic ropes, webbing, or other plastics. Recommendation: NOAA should modify the federal regulations for U.S. tuna purse seine vessels to clarify the circumstances under which FADs become illegal discharges. Within international legal frameworks, the United States should encourage IMO and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to provide similarly
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century explicit definitions of “accidental losses” and “reasonable precautions” to clarify the circumstances under which FADs constitute illegal discharges of marine debris. RFMOs should devise regulations to exert greater control on the use, deployment, and retrieval of FADs to reduce the potential for FADs to become DFG. RFMOs should hold fishing fleets, nations, or the collection of all RFMO-licensed vessels responsible for retrieving all deployed FADs and should apply accountability measures such as loss of fishing privileges in RFMO waters. In turn, nations could potentially require retrieval of FADs by the vessel or fleet. In the United States, USCG should amend regulations implementing APPS to meet the intent of MARPOL Annex V and ensure that vessels fishing within U.S. waters and U.S. vessels fishing anywhere are held accountable to these standards (page 125). Fisheries Management The Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA)—the primary law governing U.S. fisheries management—does not highlight the need to reduce DFG or other fishery-related marine debris nor does it contain a national standard to address DFG or other marine debris. Although some Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) currently include measures that may have a collateral benefit of reducing DFG, current FMPs do not include measures that specifically address DFG. Recommendation: Congress should add a national standard to MSFCMA that fishery conservation and management measures shall be designed to minimize the risk of gear loss. NOAA should establish a timetable for review of all existing FMPs for opportunities to reduce fishing-related marine debris, including reducing gear, minimizing gear loss, and minimizing impacts of lost gear, and to improve gear marking and recovery. Measures that reduce the loss or abandonment of fishing gear and encourage the retrieval of DFG should be considered in all future FMPs, National Environmental Policy Act documents, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultations and biological opinions. NOAA should encourage adoption of these measures by fisheries management organizations at the regional, state, and international levels. NOAA should also expand the duties of observers to include documentation of gear loss (page 115). DFG has the potential to negatively impact endangered and protected species. For those fisheries that generate DFG that harms endangered and protected species, NOAA has the authority under ESA and the Marine
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to require fishing gear accountability measures. Recommendation: NOAA should determine which endangered and protected marine wildlife species or populations are at risk in part from DFG based on a review of all available information on fisheries interactions with these species, include information on injury and deaths due to DFG or other fishing-related marine debris in its marine mammal stock assessments and recovery plans and status reports for other threatened and endangered species, and use the provisions of ESA and MMPA to require adoption of gear accountability and other measures to minimize or remove DFG for fisheries that generate DFG that poses an entanglement threat to endangered and protected marine wildlife (page 116). Currently, there is very little control or data on FADs in international fisheries. Replacement of plastic components and synthetic ropes and webbing used to construct FADs with readily degradable materials such as natural fibers would lessen the adverse impacts of FADs that become marine debris. Recommendation: The United States should take a leadership role by requiring that its own purse seine fleet submit a FAD management plan, encouraging RFMOs to adopt requirements for FAD management plans, and using port state jurisdiction in its territories to limit access to vessels flying the flag of countries that fail to require their vessels have a FAD management plan. RFMOs should control the number of FADs through chips, marking, tags, or other means to limit the number of FADs that can be carried and deployed by a vessel; acquire more information to characterize FAD usage in each of the agreement areas; adopt resolutions requiring parties to provide information on FAD use by vessel, including the number of sets on FADs, the number of FADs carried and deployed, and FAD retrieval, loss, and appropriation rates; and establish mechanisms to gather information on FADs including reports from parties, vessel logbooks, and observer programs. At a minimum, RFMOs need to collect and report annual data on the number of FADs deployed, the number returned to shore, the number lost, and an annual estimate of the number currently being fished. RFMOS should support the development of FAD designs that do not incorporate persistent synthetic or scrap materials but instead include materials that will self-destruct, readily biodegrade, mitigate entanglement, and provide an incentive for FADs to be maintained and regularly retrieved. RFMOs should
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century also prevent the use of synthetic and scrap material in FADs through regulation (pages 138 and 139). International Cooperation Because DFG persists and can be transported long distances, parties that generate DFG may not be the ones that bear the effects of it. Increased awareness and participation by responsible parties is necessary to effectively address the DFG problem. Recommendation: All parties responsible for the generation of DFG should be involved in prevention and cleanup. Measures to prevent and reduce DFG will require international coordination and cooperation. NOAA, the U.S. Department of State, international fisheries management organizations, and other relevant organizations should engage in technology transfer and capacity building with nations from which DFG components originate to improve implementation of MARPOL Annex V in fisheries; encourage best practices to reduce gear loss, support recycling of used fishing gear, and promote retrieval of snagged or lost gear; and facilitate the participation of representatives from nations from which DFG components originate in DFG survey and removal efforts (page 92). Gear Marking Prevention of DFG begins at the source, but identifying the source may be difficult because ocean currents can transport DFG a long distance from the site of loss or discard and can involve substantial time lags. Effective gear marking is critical for identification of the sources of DFG and the fisheries that may have deployed this gear. Recommendation: NOAA should convene a workshop to explore innovative and cost-effective approaches for identification or marking of trawls, seines, gillnets, longlines, and FADs to foster gear identification. Based on this information, NOAA should develop gear marking protocols that can be used in domestic and international fisheries to provide a structured basis for designing programs to reduce gear loss and abandonment and increase recovery of DFG (page 116). Gear Loss, Recovery, and Disposal Fishing is inherently hazardous and, of a necessity, entails some risk of gear loss despite all reasonable precautions. Because it is difficult for
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century enforcement agencies to clearly differentiate between willful, preventable, and unpreventable gear losses, enforcement of a strict liability for gear losses would be problematic and could lead fishermen to underreport losses or obscure the location of gear losses. Recommendation: Fishery management organizations, if they adopt gear loss reporting and other accountability measures, should adopt a “no fault” policy regarding the documentation and recovery of lost fishing gear. Under this policy, local fishermen, state officials, and the public should work together to develop cost-effective DFG removal and disposal programs. These programs could be subsidized through user fees; a tax or deposit on trap tags, permits, or gear; public and private grants; or mitigation banking. Fishermen participating in removal efforts could receive financial credit, or at least be exempted from landfill tipping fees (page 118). The high costs and difficulty in providing adequate reception facilities, particularly in remote areas, discourages proper disposal of used fishing gear and can also be a disincentive to DFG retrieval. Recommendation: The actual ability to receive used fishing gear and DFG should be incorporated into minimum standards in the assessment criteria for USCG COAs for port reception facilities. EPA, NOAA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the fishing industry, ports, and fishery managers, should help fishing communities explore alternative strategies and technologies for management, disposal, and recycling of used and recovered DFG. IMDCC and the NOAA Marine Debris Program should consider expanding the marine debris cleanup grants program to help offset the disposal costs for recovered DFG. Consideration should be given to dropping the 50 percent match requirement for DFG recovery and disposal programs, particularly for small remote communities (page 119). Some legal frameworks discourage or prevent the retrieval of DFG. In the United States, recovery of DFG may be inhibited by prohibitions against tampering with abandoned gear, the application of cabotage laws and burdensome certification requirements for vessels that transport DFG, and fishery regulations that prohibit vessels from carrying gear that is not a gear type permitted under their license endorsement. Recommendation: USCG should work with other federal agencies, state officials, fishermen, and the public to revise regulations that inhibit the removal of DFG (page 121).
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Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century It is immaterial whether the litter and other debris scattered along the shoreline or entangling marine animals was discarded from a vessel or discharged from a storm drain or whether or not the discharge was legally permitted. Although this report is focused on ocean-based debris sources, meaningful solutions will have to address the entire marine debris problem: the manufacture of materials that may become debris, the processes whereby debris is transported to the ocean, the organization of waste management and disposal systems, and the cleanup and remediation of regions that are impaired by marine debris. Progress will also require sustained funding and institutional support for the prevention and removal of marine debris. Even though the marine debris problem is international in scope, much could be done at the national, regional, state, and local levels. The United States, as a nation, can stop fouling its waters and the high seas and, in so doing, serve as a paragon for stewardship of the planet’s defining ecosystem, the sea.
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