A new marine debris strategy plan announced by NOAA Fisheries for 2021-2025 highlights plans for the program’s staff and partners to work together for the next five years to free the oceans and coastlines from the impact of marine debris.
Six goals included in the program include a priority of prevention, plus removal, research, response, coordination and a new goal” monitoring and detection. Plans also include a new focus on using innovative technology and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity, NOAA officials said.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment.
NOAA officials said their prevention goals include increasing the number of people participating in formal and informal marine debris education and outreach opportunities, to develop outreach products, including exhibits to raise awareness about marine debris, and to support at least 60 prevention projects that provide practical solutions to reduce marine debris.
Research steps will include developing collaborative research projects with federal and international partners, and within NOAA itself to advance shared research priorities and then disseminating marine debris research findings through webinars, workshops and presentations to inform and connect stakeholders.
The plan also calls for increasing the number of volunteer-surveyed monitoring sites by 50 percent to expand the spatial coverage of the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Program (MDMAP), retention of 75 percent of new MDMAP sites for at least two years to expand the number of long-term monitoring partnerships for data continuity and integrating emerging remote sensing technologies to improve debris detection capabilities and outputs within the marine debris community.
NOAA officials also announced their fiscal year 2021 North America Marine Debris Prevention and Removal notice of funding opportunity, with funds provided through the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act.
NOAA plans to award up to $5 million in fiscal year 2021 to fund projects addressing marine debris issues in the U.S.-Mexico and U.S-Canada border areas. Projects that include collaboration with partners in Mexico and/or Canada will be prioritized, they said.
Full proposals are due by Jan 29. Information on grant opportunities are online at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=329765 and https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/resources/funding-opportunities.