Skip to main content

Marine Trash and Debris Program

Marine Trash and Debris Program

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) works to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement. BSEE protects the environment across 1.7 billion acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). One aspect of that protection is our program to reduce the offshore energy industry’s contribution to marine debris.

Marine debris has become an increasing problem in recent decades. Many products designed for short-term use and most packaging designed for one-time use (e.g., bottled water) have littered beaches and waterways around the world. Plastic packaging contributes greatly to the debris problem. While plastics may constitute only about 12% of our wastes (EPA, 2020), their durability results in massive accumulation. Plastics typically compose about 75% of debris on beaches (SCBD, 2012). They decay very slowly and build up in our environment (click to see timeline). Estimates of plastic debris finding its way into our oceans range from about 5 to 13 million tons each year just from the coastal zone (NOAA-MDP, 2016; Jambeck et al., 2015; Marine Litter Solutions, 2009; UNEP, 2005). In the United States, about 80% of marine debris washes into the oceans from land-based sources and 20% is from ocean sources (EPA, 2017; UNEP, 2017; UNEP, 2008; UNEP, 2006; GESAMP, 1990). Ocean sources include shipping, fishing, cruise lines, military, and industry. The offshore energy industry is only one part of those sources.

BSEE enforces marine debris regulations found in Title 30, Code of Federal Regulations §250.300 Pollution Prevention. The BSEE marine debris prevention program is outlined in BSEE’s Notice to Lessees and Operators 2015-G03. The program requires offshore energy industry operators to follow best practices to prevent marine debris. The program also requires annual training for all offshore workers and annual reporting of training records. The marine debris training materials available below qualify for use as part of the annual training.

Marine Debris Prevention Training Materials


Keep the Sea Free of Debris – Wallpaper/Screensaver

Keep the Sea Free of Debris calendar art can be downloaded by clicking on the “Bad” image. The artwork is created by students in kindergarten through 8th grade for an annual contest sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. The download includes a Readme file with more information and instructions. We encourage you to use these images (especially offshore) for computer “desktop backgrounds”, for screensavers, on phones, etc. It’s some really cool artwork, so we want to share it with everyone for their own use and enjoyment. The idea is to constantly place these concepts before offshore workers to remind them to prevent marine debris.

Marine Debris Educational Materials

The following can be used as “Environmental Moments” or awareness training in safety meetings, etc. And of course, the wallpaper images can go on lots of devices.

      Literature Cited