In Media: Sea Grant Coordinates Marine Debris Action Plan for LI Sound
Marine Debris - News

Plastic pollution on our shorelines is plain to see, but concern is mounting over the impacts of microplastics in our waters. Credit: Paul C. Focazio, NYSG.

Published for Stony Brook University's E-news Site, Happenings

Stony Brook, NY, April 28, 2020 - Abandoned boats, broken lobster traps, discarded tires and all types of other trash aren’t just eyesores on Long Island Sound’s beaches, coves and channels. They’re also hazards to wildlife, can impede navigation, and threaten human safety and health. 

To address this problem, Sea Grant programs in New York (NYSG) and Connecticut (CTSG) will coordinate a Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound that will develop a comprehensive strategy to rid the Sound of as much debris as possible. Leading the project for NYSG is Kathleen Fallon, Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist, who is based at Stony Brook University. 

The plan will delineate goals and strategies needed for implementation, enlisting undergraduate students from Stony Brook University and UConn in service learning opportunities in the 2020-21 academic year to research other multi-state debris removal plans that could serve as templates.

The Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound is one of eight projects awarded funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sea Grant-Marine Debris Special Projects Competition. A total of $350,000 was awarded for the eight projects, which will be matched by $350,000 from the state programs. The NY-CT project will receive $50,000 in federal funding that will be matched with $53,000 from the two programs.

“Marine debris is more than a coastal issue, as a good portion of the garbage that finds its way into the Sound was discarded miles inland,” said Fallon. “By working together and making marine debris awareness a priority, we can protect and enhance the Sound.”

The two Sea Grant programs will develop the plan in cooperation with the EPA Long Island Sound Study, a bi-state cooperative partnership of state and federal agencies, and numerous user groups and organizations concerned about the estuary shared by New York and Connecticut. The NOAA Marine Debris Program coordinators for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will be active participants, sharing insights and experiences from other similar efforts.

“New York Sea Grant is thrilled to partner in this effort to reduce the flow of trash, from large to microscopic, in order to protect our Sound, its habitats and its creatures,” said NYSG Associate Director Kathy Bunting-Howarth. “Through collaborative planning, we can work to stop the flow of these contaminants into this estuary of national significance and from mistakenly being ingested as food by an aquatic creature.”

Credit: Ryan Strother, NYSG.

To begin the two-year project later this spring, the Sea Grant programs will invite stakeholders concerned about the marine debris issue to join as partners in creating a plan that builds on the significant existing efforts. These include five recent major campaigns in both states aimed at reducing plastic pollution, corralling derelict fishing gear and cleaning up beaches; along with three new initiatives and three Sea Grant-funded research projects on impacts of plastic on the marine environment. 

“We are excited to be working with our Sea Grant colleagues across the Sound to improve the estuary,” added Fallon. “This initiative will bring together diverse partners already working on marine debris issues and work to develop a concise action plan to reduce the amount and impact of marine debris in the Long Island Sound.”

As the project progresses, partners will be asked to voluntarily take on responsibilities for specific actions to advance the plan to completion. Once finished, the plan will provide a methodical description of the steps that should be followed from 2022 to 2027 to achieve the priority goals and objectives agreed upon by the partners. 

For more on the topic of marine debris, visit

And to read the full press release, see "New York, Connecticut Sea Grant Programs to Lead Development of Long Island Sound Marine Debris Reduction Action Plan."

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog,

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