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BSEE Blog: BSEE, EPA, NOAA Partner to Reduce Marine Trash, Debris


Bureau: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement


BSEE marine ecologist James Sinclair

BSEE Safety Blog:
By: James Sinclair, Marine Ecologist, BSEE

April 8, 2014 - As the temperature rises and the school year winds to a close, many of us will be making our way to beaches across the country for summer vacations. If you live along the Gulf coast you might be headed to places such as Pensacola Beach in Florida, Orange Beach in Alabama, Grand Isle in Louisiana or Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. What you don't want to see while you're there is trash washing up along the shore.

BSEE and our partners such as EPA and NOAA are working hard to reduce the amount of debris you see in the water. Together, we are part of an Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee that is tackling this issue for the government. We are actively coordinating activities and making recommendations on innovative methods of reducing the amount of debris in the water. Not only does this marine trash pose a threat to your beach experience, it also harms marine life, increases the cost of beach and park maintenance, and causes costly repairs for boaters. The committee is currently drafting a report to Congress highlighting research priorities, monitoring techniques, educational programs, and regulatory actions.

This effort is well in line with BSEE's ongoing work to protect the environment and participating in this interagency committee is a way to leverage the valuable resources within our agencies to support that goal. While federal and international laws prohibit the disposal of trash and debris into a marine environment, the bureau’s Marine Trash and Debris program focuses on those laws by creating education and regulation to minimize environmental damage to the Outer Continental Shelf.

BSEE requires that all offshore operators use safe practices to prevent debris (such as labeling and securing loose items), display marine trash and debris placards on facilities, and manifest and send all trash to shore. In addition, all personnel working on offshore facilities must attend training programs about the proper management and disposal of trash and debris. Trash and debris inspections are conducted randomly each year.

The bureau’s program emphasizes the personal responsibility of offshore workers to help reduce the litter problem and control unintended loss of property such as empty buckets and hard hats as well as small trash items and packaging materials that can be lost in the marine environment. Education remains the key to prevention and is a major focus for the bureau.

April 9, 2014