New Organization to Tackle the Challenges of Marine Debris

Photo credit: NOAA

A new organization is joining the fight to keep our ocean and Great Lakes free of marine debris. NOAA selected the inaugural Board of Directors for the new Marine Debris Foundation, a group that will augment federal efforts to address marine debris.

Marine debris is one of the most widespread pollution problems facing our waterways, Great Lakes and ocean. Huge amounts of plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, abandoned fishing gear and vessels and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day.

To help solve this problem, the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020 established the charitable and nonprofit Marine Debris Foundation (Foundation) and directed the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to appoint the Foundation’s inaugural governing Board of Directors.

“The inaugural members of the Marine Debris Foundation’s Board of Directors all demonstrate passion and commitment to tackling the challenges of marine debris,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “They bring a wealth of knowledge, and we appreciate their willingness to serve.”

Part of the Foundation’s role as a charitable non-profit is to encourage, accept, and administer private funding in support of the mission and activities of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. The Foundation will also assist state, local, and Tribal governments, foreign governments, organizations, and individuals in mitigation efforts and support other Federal actions to reduce marine debris.

“We look forward to working with the new Marine Debris Foundation to enhance NOAA’s efforts to assess, prevent, reduce and remove marine debris,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., who also serves as a member of the Board.

“Together, we can do even more to address the adverse impacts of marine debris on the economy of the United States, the marine environment and navigation safety.”

The appointees to the Board were selected to meet the criteria required by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act and represent diverse points of view, expertise, education, and experiences relating to the assessment, prevention, reduction, and removal of marine debris. The selected appointees will serve terms of two to six years, so that appointments can stagger in the future.

The following individuals will serve on the inaugural Board (in alphabetical order):

  • Scott A. Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Product Stewardship Institute
  • Katie A. Conlon, Ph.D., National Geographic Explorer
  • Julianne J. Curry, Public Affairs Manager, Icicle Seafoods and commercial fisherman
  • Ginny L. Eckert, Ph.D., Director, Alaska Sea Grant and Professor, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • John P. Foley, Founder and Executive Chairman of Peloton
  • Jenna R. Jambeck, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia
  • Sherry M. Lippiatt, Ph.D., Risk and Finance Communications Specialist, Scoot Science
  • Nicholas J. Mallos, Senior Director, Trash Free Seas Program, Ocean Conservancy
  • Erica L. Nuñez, Program Officer, The Ocean Foundation
  • Neil V. Tangri, Ph.D., Science and Policy Director, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
  • Carrie A. Thompson, Senior Foreign Service Officer (ret) and former Acting Assistant Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Miki K. Tomita, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, Education Incubator

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