- Plastic waste in the oceans is now recognized as a serious threat to marine life and a pollution problem with economic consequences for mariners and coastal states. Annex V of
MARPOL, effective December 1988, is an international treaty which prohibits signatory nations from disposing of any plastic material into the ocean and which restricts the disposal of other materials depending on distance from shore. This treaty
is implemented into U.S. law through the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act (MPPRCA) of 1987. The law also requires that ports and other docking facilities provide waste reception facilities to accept the regulated refuse. A demonstration project was conducted at the Port of Newport in Newport, Oregon under a grant provided by the
National Marine Fisheries Service. The project's goals were to determine the extent and types of facilities needed to provide
adequate refuse reception services and to encourage mariners to use these facilities.
Interviews with mariners and port workers as well as observations and studies identified the refuse facility needs and possibilities. Changes were implemented to increase capacity and convenience. Additional or larger size trash containers were used on the docks and bins designated for specific recyclable materials were placed adjacent to these
trash receptacles. A water-level barge for bulky recyclable materials and a central recycling and refuse reception area were also added to create additional capacity. These changes made it possible to accept the increased amounts of refuse that began being returned as the awareness campaign progressed. Members of the project's advisory group, especially the commercial fishermen, members of the marine enforcement and boating safety groups, and the marine extension agents, helped design and implement the education and outreach program. Peer pressure and involvement in the planning process resulted in a high degree of participation in the project by the commercial fishermen and cooperation with its efforts. Individual and
group discussions, beach clean-ups and studies, media articles, school activities, photographic displays, radio and television
public service announcements, and promotional items such as decals, stickers, and baseball caps helped raise and maintain community awareness of the problem. After a year of project efforts an 80% return rate of plastic refuse by the commercial fishermen is estimated to have been obtained. The recycling system is thought to have allowed
the port to accept three times as much refuse volume at no increased cost. Mariner and community awareness is high and educational efforts are widely supported. Many of the lessons learned, such as the use of recycling to reduce solid waste disposal costs, the use of water level refuse reception facilities, and the color coding of these facilities to improve visibility and convenience, will be
applicable to other ports and communities. In all ports it will be important to involve the mariners in defining refuse facility needs and in encouraging peer awareness. The importance of a high visibility media and community awareness campaign is also generally applicable. These measures will help ports not only comply effectively with new regulations, but will allow them to
take a leadership role in efforts to solve the marine debris problem.