Reef HQ Programs | Students | Reef Guardians | GBR Explorer | Visual Library | Reef Beat |



Marine Debris

Marine Debris Header

What is Marine Debris

Did you know?

Seal caught in and killed by a plastic strapping band. Photo: ©California Coastal Commission.
It is estimated that some 1 million seabirds and 100,000 other marine animals including turtles, whales, dugongs and countless fish are killed as a result of plastic litter every year.
marine debris

Marine debris consists of plastic litter washed or blown from land into the sea, fishing gear abandoned or lost by recreational and commercial fishers, and solid non-biodegradable floating materials (such as plastics) disposed of or lost by ships at sea.

Plastic materials are defined as bags, bottles, strapping bands, sheeting, synthetic ropes, synthetic fishing nets, floats, fibreglass, piping, insulation, paints and adhesives. Disposal of plastics at sea is totally prohibited by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 (MARPOL).

Seven billion tonnes of various types of litter enter the world's oceans every year. Plastics, which generally make up about 60 percent of rubbish, are the worst offenders and can last for 10-20 years on the ocean floor before decomposing.