Marine Debris Foundation Establishing Headquarters in Juneau

Image: Marine Debris Foundation.

The Marine Debris Foundation (MDF), established by Congress as a public-private partnership with NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, will have its headquarters in Juneau, Alaska on the campus of the University of Alaska College and Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, it was announced Feb. 21.

The foundation, based alongside the fisheries college and the University of Alaska Southeast, has enormous potential, said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who made the announcement in his annual address to the Alaska Legislature.

“NOAA’s program is our nation’s sole government agency exclusively focused on the complex issue of marine debris,” the foundation’s executive director, Susan R. Sherman, said.

“Government agencies typically enter into public-private partnerships like this one to expand the scope of work they can accomplish,” she explained. “Government agencies by design have statutory limitations that private, nonprofit organizations like the Marine Debris Foundation do not.”

A first round of several grant awards, for amounts of up to $30,000 was announced last year. MDF will announce its next open call for grants in the spring of 2024 and issue its round two grants in the fall, Sherman said.

MDF was launched with seed funding from NOAA as well as a U.S. State Department grant. The grant included funds that allowed the MDF to issue its first round of grant awards at the end of 2023.

“In the meantime, our charge is to raise significant funds from the private sector to sustain and grow MDF, including our grantmaking capacity,” Sherman said. “Because marine debris is an international issue, MDF will make both domestic and international grant awards.”

“No one organization or agency can tackle marine debris alone, and partnership will be key to our success. Locating an office in Juneau will put us in proximity to agencies, academia, NGOs, Alaska Natives and others who are working on aspects of ocean health that align with MDF’s mission,” she said.