In this episode on the global pollution crisis of marine debris, Joan Bondareff and Martha McCoy discuss the scope, sources, and impacts of the marine debris problem and measures to address it. The episode covers ongoing and emerging federal, nonprofit, community, and international action to prevent and respond to marine debris, as well as recent and proposed legislation addressing plastic pollution and marine debris.
Marine debris, consisting of huge amounts of materials such as plastics, metals, and rubber disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment, is a vast pollution problem facing the ocean and waterways. Marine debris is abundant and extensive, and it causes adverse impacts on wildlife, the environment, the economy, and navigation safety. Plastic pollution in the oceans and waterways poses a particular concern; plastic does not biodegrade in any meaningful amount, but rather, wave energy and sunlight can break plastic down into microplastic fragments, which may carry harmful chemicals and additives, such as endocrine disruptors. Animals consume microplastics in the environment and humans consume microplastics through sources such as drinking water and seafood; this exposure to microplastics may lead to health concerns. Key developments over the last several years in legislation, international action, and policy approaches illustrate the ongoing and emerging trends in the multi-pronged approach by federal agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to target the sources and impacts of marine debris and further action is needed to address this growing crisis.
The speakers, Joan Bondareff and Martha McCoy, discuss the scope, sources and impacts of marine debris and will address federal, nonprofit, community, and international action to prevent and respond to the problem of marine debris. The speakers also discuss recent and proposed legislation addressing plastic pollution and marine debris.
Joan Bondareff is Maritime Counsel at Blank Rome LLP and former Senior Counsel to the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and author of several articles on the subject including https://safepassageblankrome.com/2020/12/16/marine-plastic-pollution/. Martha McCoy is author of an article in the Spring 2021 Natural Resources & Environment publication titled "Marine Debris: the U.S. Federal Role in a Local and Global Problem," and in her role as an Attorney-Advisor with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of General Counsel, she provides legal counsel to, among others, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. (Disclaimer: the podcast will express Martha McCoy's personal views and not the official views or position of NOAA or the Department of Commerce).