Date: 07/21/2010 Description: Volunteers removing derelict fishing gear from a beach. © NOAA

The United States is one of the global leaders in addressing the problem of marine debris and derelict fishing gear (DFG) that adversely affects vulnerable and sensitive habitats, coastal areas, commercial marine activities, human health and safety and protected marine species.

The U.S. has enacted domestic law that focuses on marine debris and also strives to ensure that the international agreements that focus on marine debris, such as the London Convention and MARPOL, are implemented. The Department works with other U.S. federal agencies, such as NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academies of Science, and with a broad range of constituents and stakeholders to meet U.S. objectives regarding reduction and prevention of marine debris, particularly as it applies to DFG.

The Department participates in developing U.S. policy regarding marine debris and DFG through the Inter-Agency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee, as called for in the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act. The IMDCC submitted a report to Congress in 2009 on U.S. efforts to address marine debris and DFG.

The Department advocates U.S. policy objectives relating to DFG in international forums in which we participate, such as the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries, the UN Environment Program, and regional forums, including multiple regional fisheries management organizations. The Department supports and facilitates policies and courses of action in these international bodies that are consistent both with our international commitments and our domestic regulations.