Annual Progress Report, 2012
Starting as litter, it gets washed into storm drains and streams, enters the ocean, and breaks down into smaller pieces that are mistaken for food and eaten by fish and wildlife, often killing them. Some of it washes up on beaches; the rest drifts endlessly as tiny particles in the ocean gyres.
EPA's Pacific Southwest Region has developed a Marine Debris Strategy, using existing EPA resources and working with an array of partners to address the problem – both on land and in the open ocean. The strategy includes waste minimization and trash reduction from stormwater discharges, as well as investigating potential cleanup approaches in the ocean. EPA is also working collaboratively to monitor migration of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
Marine Debris: A Global Issue
Plastics are the predominant type of marine debris in the Pacific. Plastic is estimated to represent between 60% and 80% of the total marine debris in the world’s oceans.