McDonnell urges reduction of marine debris, signs proclamation

virginia-blue-oversizeEncouraging all Virginians to take action to reduce trash and litter in the Commonwealth’s waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a proclamation recognizing June 2013 as Marine Debris Reduction Month in Virginia.

“More people are becoming aware of the sources and impacts of marine debris, and they realize that their daily actions and choices make a difference,” Governor McDonnell said. “But we still have a ways to go in reducing this risk for our coastal and ocean environments.”

Marine debris was the focus of a summit sponsored in Virginia Beach in February by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality. The CZM Program, a network of state agencies and coastal local governments, will coordinate development of a Virginia marine debris reduction plan to outline potential solutions, working with partners including DEQ, Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Marine debris is a shared problem that requires coordination among federal, state and local governments, academia, businesses, nonprofit organizations, community groups, commercial and recreational fishermen, boaters, marinas – all of us working together,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech. “The commitment made by all the partners at the marine debris summit to collaborate and focus their resources on this challenging issue is a significant step in the right direction.”

McDonnell’s proclamation highlights the effects of marine debris on Virginia’s environment. Debris in the ocean such as balloons, plastic bags and cigarette butts can be mistaken for food and ingested by sea turtles, birds and other wildlife. Plastic debris such as six-pack holders, fishing lines and gear can entangle or entrap whales, dolphins, seals, birds and other sea creatures.

Over many years, plastic debris can break down into “microplastics,” which are tiny pieces that may be eaten by animals and enter the animal and human food chains. Improperly discarded plastics can contain contaminants such as phthalates, bisphenol A, styrene, vinyl chloride and flame retardants that can leach into water and pose health concerns for humans, fish and wildlife.

The proclamation is available online at:

More information on marine debris reduction efforts is available on the Virginia CZM Program website at or contact program Manager Laura McKay at (804) 698-4323,

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