California Ocean Protection Council

John Laird, Secretary for Natural Resources, Council Chair
Matt Rodriquez, Secretary for Environmental Protection
Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, State Lands Commission Chair
Susan Golding, Public Member
Geraldine Knatz, Public Member
Fran Pavley, State Senator
Toni Atkins, State Assembly Member

Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic...Are We?

Dear Ocean and Coastal Community,

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is pleased to announce the release of a new report entitled, “Plastic Debris in the California Marine Ecosystem: A Summary of Current Research, Solution Efforts and Data Gaps.”

The OPC has identified marine debris as a critical issue for California’s ocean resources. In 2007, the OPC passed a resolution aimed at reducing ocean and coastal debris and its impacts on ecosystems. That resolution identified the need to better understand the science of plastic marine debris in California. In response, the OPC commissioned a report to summarize the current state of research on the sources, abundance, pathways, and impacts of plastic debris in California, including a particular focus on the toxicology of plastics in seawater. The report is now complete and is available on the OPC website.

The OPC tasked Ocean Science Trust (OST), a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering the best available science to state managers and policymakers, with coordinating the report. To help ensure the utmost scientific rigor, OST partnered with USC Sea Grant, a known leader on the topic of water quality, in the production of the report. The report is an objective informational document intended to inform those interested in gaining a greater understanding of the current scientific and technical knowledge about the issue of plastic marine debris in California. By summarizing what is known and not known, this report is intended to help managers and policymakers determine the next steps in addressing this important issue.

Marine debris is defined as any persistent manmade object discarded, disposed of, or abandoned into the coastal or marine environment. In California, marine debris has been detected for decades on shore, floating on the surface or in the water column, and on the seafloor. A significant portion of marine debris, up to 80% in some places, is plastic. There are a many biological, ecological, and economic impacts associated with plastic marine debris in the coastal and marine environment. This report documents the current state of research on the sources, abundance, pathways, and impacts of plastic debris in California, with a particular focus on the toxicology of plastics in seawater.

Sincerely,
Dr. Amber Mace
Executive Director, Ocean Protection Council
posting-oceanpublic@resources.ca.gov