Marine debris is any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. Marine debris can be small, like a cigarette butt tossed on the beach, or large, like an abandoned vessel. While marine debris is a global problem requiring international cooperation, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance can help address a broad range of issues and coordinate on the local, state, and regional scale to help alleviate negative impacts of marine debris.

The goal of this initiative is to assess, reduce, prevent, and eliminate marine debris and aquatic trash in the Gulf of Mexico and its watershed for the benefit of habitats, wildlife and fisheries, humans, and the Gulf economy.

The Marine Debris Cross-Team Initiative is planning a virtual meeting for October 20-21, 2020. For information contact a Team facilitator.

2020 October Virtual Meeting

Register now.

The Marine Debris Cross-Team Initiative held a virtual mid-year meeting October 20-21, 2020. The purpose of this meeting was to review cross-team updates, plan to implement Action Plan IV, and discuss grant applications.


The objectives of this meeting were:

  • Bring together entities across the Gulf that currently address marine debris.
  • Review the NEW Marine Debris Cross Team in Governors’ Action Plan IV for Healthy and Resilient Coasts.
  • Better understand how to write a successful grant proposal.
  • Create Tier 2 project plans and metric trackers to be used to track the status of our work over the next 5 years.

Download the draft agenda. Contact Caitlin Wessel for updates.


2019 October Mid-Year Meeting

The Marine Debris Cross-Team Initiative held their Mid-year Meeting at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas, on October 8-9, 2019. The meeting addressed marine debris and it’s impacts on the Gulf of Mexico. Contact the initiative facilitator or lead for follow-up information from this meeting. Thank you to everyone for a successful event. 


Gulf Star 2016 Awards

  • Marine Debris Dash | Ocean Hour
    This project works systematically to clean up specific shores in northwest Florida, collecting debris and tracking the items on the NOAA marine debris tracker.  Using the data, this project will work with local businesses and government officials to curb their incidence on the shore. This project is funded by and shared with the GOMA Education & Engagement Team.
  • Plastic Free Gulf Coast in Mississippi | Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
    This project aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic in the three coastal counties of Mississippi and provide data showing this reduction. This project is funded by and shared with the GOMA Education & Engagement Team.
  • Microplastics Citizen Science Project | Mississippi State University
    The purpose of this microplastics project is to demonstrate the type and location of degraded microplastics. This grant is a citizen science project where sediment and water samples are collected and processed for microplastics, then integrated into an existing visualization tool.  The data collection and visualization tool is already being used by Florida Microplastic Awareness Project and is being expanded to marine debris programs in other Gulf states. This project is funded by and shared with the GOMA Education & Engagement Team.
  • Tracking Trash | Dauphin Island Sea Lab
    The goal of this project is to educate middle and high school students and teachers about the marine debris problem in coastal Alabama; show students how technology can be used to study a problem, and develop an engineering/solution-based mindset and instill a sense of stewardship for their local waterway. This project is funded by and shared with the GOMA Education & Engagement Team.
  • Marine Debris Education & Prevention | Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
    This project will engage high school and college students in the data collection and monitoring of marine debris and sediment microplastics on a private beach in Louisiana.  Students will spend one day per quarter in the field researching, collecting, and analyzing marine debris data and preparing action items to stop it at the source. This project is funded by and shared with the GOMA Education & Engagement Team.

Team Facilitator