BEAUFORT — The North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Sea Grant, Onslow Country Solid Waste Department and North Carolina Coastal Reserve hosted the N.C. Marine Debris Action Planning Workshop, on Thursday, Feb. 28. The workshop was held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort.

The workshop was a collaborative participatory process that was organized in order to finalize marine debris reduction strategies and actions for a debris-free North Carolina coast. The Action Plan will be complementary to the Southeast Regional Marine Debris Plan, coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. The plan will build upon work conducted at the February 2018 Debris-Free NC workshop as well as work on issues that are currently being addressed by North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

During this workshop, participants learned about the development of the draft N.C. Marine Debris Action Plan, reviewed the draft and provided input through facilitated activities. Participants also learned about projects that are currently being implemented and had an opportunity to join a working group to implement Action Plan strategies that cover major debris categories including preventing and removing consumer debris, fishing gear, abandoned and derelict vessels.

“The people that attended the workshop provided a significant amount of insight and knowledge for refining the plan,” said Gloria Putnam, coastal resources and communities specialist for the North Carolina Sea Grant. “These experts are engaged with marine debris on a continual basis. We’re glad they invested the time and effort to help us revise the strategies and actions to reflect what we heard should be the state’s marine debris priorities.”

“The workshop provided a great forum to review and improve actions that can reduce (and ultimately eliminate) marine debris in our amazing coastal ecosystems,” said Rett Newton, Mayor of Beaufort. “The diverse group of experts recognizes that the increasing amount of trash in our waterways is unsustainable and we need a comprehensive action plan to solve this complex problem at both the local and regional levels. To be successful, we will need all governments, businesses, civic groups, non-governmental organizations, schools, and individual citizens to actively participate. This is not a trash problem…it is a people problem.”

Attendees were asked to come prepared to participate and play an active role in finalizing the reduction plan and developing an implementation strategy. The goals for the workshop were to identify a time frame for each of the plan actions, establish an advisory committee and present the marine debris assessment to those in attendance.

The draft N.C. Marine Debris Action Plan is a product of a marine debris assessment that was conducted from 2017 to 2018 called The State of Marine Debris in North Carolina: An Assessment of Prevention and Removal. This assessment was created by the federation along with representatives from the North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium, Onslow County Solid Waste Department, North Carolina Sea Grant, North Carolina Coastal Reserve, National Estuarine Research Reserve and Duke University Marine Laboratory. The document was produced to inform the development of a strategic marine debris reduction. The assessment can be accessed here.

For more information on the N.C. Marine Debris Action Plan please contact Sara Hallas at 252-473-1607 or