Marine Debris in Alaska

Coordinating Our Efforts

In cooperation with Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE)

Egan Convention Center
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
February 14–15, 2008

The proceedings from this workshop is available in hard copy for purchase or as a free PDF download; view book details at our online bookstore.

Workshop Information


The purpose of the Marine Debris in Alaska workshop is to coordinate and prioritize statewide marine debris removal, education, and outreach, and help form a strategy for future prevention and cleanup efforts.

Alaska has more than 35,000 miles of mostly uninhabited coastline, and lacks significant road access. Alaska's oceans support the largest array of commercial fisheries in North America, and they also serve as major international and intra-state cargo transportation routes, coastal community transportation, and tourist destinations. The magnitude of use and the pattern of currents near Alaska's shores have led to large deposits of marine debris on our coasts. In addition, inadequately disposed waste from coastal communities also enters the marine environment.

Efforts to remove Alaska marine debris are regionally spotty and often opportunistic. Government agencies, environmental organizations, landowners, and tribes attempt to identify and solve marine debris issues with few resources and limited central organization. As a result, regional debris removal programs often operate in isolation, and are modestly funded using a combination of volunteer and paid staff. Furthermore, removal costs are high in Alaska because of difficult access to coasts, safety and weather considerations, and limited landfill sites and recycling options. Effective outreach and education is challenging because debris sources are often unknown.

Workshop Focus



The workshop will begin with an introduction, including brief presentations on current statewide removal and disposal efforts, known and predicted environmental effects in Alaska, and education and outreach efforts. This will be followed by breakout groups led by informed panelists to discuss action items and produce brief discussion summaries.

Breakout Topics

  1. Where and how accessible are regional debris accumulations?
  2. Is it possible to collect standardized data on marine debris?
  3. What should be done with the removed debris?
  4. How can we reduce marine debris sources through education and outreach?
  5. How can we develop statewide programs?

Steering Committee

Sponsoring Agencies

For More Information