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 the 1.7 billion acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). One aspect of that protection is our program to reduce the contribution of the oil and gas industry to marine debris.


Marine Debris Timeline of Biodegradation
Marine Debris Timeline

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 13% of our wastes (EPA, 2014), their long 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 (see the marine debris timeline, below). 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 oil and gas 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 oil and gas 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.


Keep the Sea Free of Debris – Wallpaper/Screensaver

Keep the Sea Free of Debris artBelow, you can download images of Keep the Sea Free of Debris calendar art. The art work 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 art work, 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 Prevention Training Materials


Other Marine Debris Related 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. 


Marine Debris


Literature Cited

Marine Litter Solutions. URL accessed 10/25/2017

EPA. 2014. Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet. URL accessed 10/26/2017

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel—GEF (2012). Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions, Montreal, Technical Series No. 67, 61 pages.

Environmental Protection Agency. 2017. Sources of Aquatic Trash. URL accessed 10/26/2017.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program. (2016). Report on Marine Debris Impacts on Coastal and Benthic Habitats. Silver Spring, MD: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program. URL accessed 11/7/2017

GESAMP (Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution). 1990. The State of the Marine Environment. Rep. Stud. GESAMP No. 39. 111 pp.

United Nations Environment Programme. 2017. Addressing land-based pollution. Webpage, URL accessed 11/8/2017

Jenna R. Jambeck, Roland Geyer, Chris Wilcox, Theodore R. Siegler, Miriam Perryman, Anthony Andrady, Ramani Narayan, and Kara Lavender Law. 2015. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science 347 (6223), 768-771. DOI: 10.1126/science.1260352