Research and Publications
Teams of academics and other partners are leading marine debris research that answers questions about marine debris types, impacts, and solutions in the Great Lakes. Research papers, reports, and other technical publications are available below.
This report summarizes the findings of a research project conducted by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program (OSG) in the fall of 2016. Funding for the project was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through an award to the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. OSG was subcontracted by Thunder Tech Inc., a private marketing firm located in Cleveland, Ohio, to conduct applied research to inform a social marketing campaign focused on reducing plastic marine debris. The results will be used by the City of Cleveland and Thunder Tech Inc. to develop a social marketing campaign designed to support desired behaviors regarding the use and proper disposal of plastic bags, water bottles, and cigar tips.
Marine debris is a persistent problem in many coastal areas of the United States. There are a variety of potential economic losses associated with marine debris, including effects on commercial fisheries, effects on waterfront property values, costs incurred by local governments and volunteer organizations to remove and dispose of marine debris, and more general “existence” values reflecting the public’s preference for a clean environment. This study evaluates two types of economic loss that result from the effects of marine debris on beach recreation: the loss of recreational value to beach visitors, and the regional economic impact from reduced spending on beach visits in a particular region. Beach studies in the Great Lakes were conducted in Ohio.
The purpose of this project was to quantify microplastic loads at single sites on selected beaches at a continental scale to better understand microplastic distribution. Six sites were sampled in the Great Lakes Region.
Given the growing saliency of plastic marine debris, and the impact of plastics on beaches and aquatic environments in the Laurentian Great Lakes, applied research is needed to support municipal and nongovernmental campaigns to prevent debris from reaching the water's edge. This study addresses this need by examining the barriers and beneﬁts to positive behavior for two plastic debris items in northeast Ohio's Lake Erie basin: plastic bags and plastic water bottles. An online survey is employed to gather data on the use and disposal of these plastic items and to solicit recommendations on how to positively change behavior to reduce improper disposal. Results support a ban on plastic bags and plastic water bottles, with more enthusiasm for a bag ban. Financial incentives are also seen as an eﬀective way to inﬂuence behavior change, as are location-speciﬁc solutions focused on education and outreach.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program has developed standardized, statistically valid methodologies for conducting rapid assessments of the debris material type and quantity present in a monitored location. The monitoring guidelines in this document focus on abundance, types, and concentration on shorelines, in surface waters, during visual surveys at sea, and in the benthos.