Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program outlines plan to reduce waste in coastal waterways

Virginia

This Sept. 14, 2020 photo shows shows a Duke Energy natural gas-fired electric power plant on Sutton Lake in Wilmington, N.C. It went online in 2013 and replaced a coal-fired plant that had polluted the lake with coal ash. Sutton Lake is among a number of man-made reservoirs in the U.S. that environmentalists say will lose federal protection from pollution under a Trump administration revision of the Clean Water Act that took effect this year. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Environmental leaders have released an updated plan they hope will help to reduce debris in Virginia’s coastal waterways and the Atlantic Ocean.

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“This plan is a roadmap for working together on sustained approaches to reduce the flow of plastic and other litter into Virginia’s coastal waters,” said Laura McKay, Manager of the Virginia CZM Program and co-author of the Plan.

The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, established in 1986, is a network of state agencies and coastal localities that administer laws, regulations and policies to protect coastal resources

Officials say bottles, balloons, plastic bags, cigarette butts and food containers are debris that often end up in Virginia’s waters.

The 2021-2025 Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan expands on those items to also focus on fishing gear, microplastics and abandoned boats. The plan is funded through grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

“While not as commonly seen as plastic bags and bottles, other debris such as derelict fishing gear, abandoned fiberglass boats and microplastics also present threats to the marine ecosystem as well as human safety issues,” reported Katie Register, Executive Director of Clean Virginia Waterways and co-author of the Plan.

This plan aligns with a Mid-Atlantic marine debris action plan written by the NOAA earlier this year. 

“Prevention of litter and waste through behavior change is key to reducing marine debris from specific sources such as balloons, single-use plastic bags, food and beverage items, and cigarette butts,” adds Virginia Witmer, Outreach Coordinator and leader in the application of Community-Based Social Marketing behavior change campaigns.

The 2021-2025 Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan can be downloaded from the Virginia CZM Program website at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/coasts/marine-debris

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