January 18, 2013
Marine debris is a pervasive, global problem that impacts coastal, open-ocean, and in-land water resources and environments. A diverse array of debris items pollute our oceans and waterways, ranging from soda cans and plastic bags to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels. The impacts of marine debris have been recognized and monitored since the 1940’s, but recent disaster events, such as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the marine debris aftermath, have catalyzed a growing public awareness of impacts and the need for solutions. Although marine debris is a pervasive and conspicuous environmental issue, much attention has been placed on the impacts of marine debris fallout from these disaster events. The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) acts to directly address marine debris issues that arise from everyday pollution activity and from debris generated by disaster events. The program strives to reduce the impacts of marine debris in aquatic environments by 1) funding research and removal projects; 2) developing and improving detection and modeling efforts; 3) fostering regional coordination among various stakeholders, and 4) improving public knowledge via outreach and educational initiatives. The MDP also retains a strong response-oriented mission and continues to coordinate federal responses to marine debris items originating from natural disaster events. This colloquium serves as an introduction to the problems associated with marine debris, and the MDP’s role in addressing these issues with a specific focus on the response to disaster-related debris detection, modeling, and removal activities.
Jason Landrum, Office of Response and Restoration, Marine Debris Division, NOAA.
Jason is a biological oceanographer with a background in marine ecology and stable isotope biogeochemistry. After obtaining a B.A. in Earth Sciences from Cornell University, he matriculated into the School of Biology at Georgia Institute of Technology as an NSF IGERT fellow to study Aquatic Chemical Signaling. For his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech, Landrum investigated the role of biological nitrogen fixation in supporting food webs in tropical/subtropical, open-ocean environments. After completing his Ph.D., he ventured across campus to earn an M.S. degree in international affairs while also developing and teaching a course in environmental politics. Jason is currently participating in the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program that is administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). As an AAAS fellow, he is examining 1) the social processes that facilitate human adaptation to environmental change, 2) the interactions between various governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in providing appropriate incentives that promote sustainable growth, and 3) the role scientific communities play in the formation and implementation of domestic and international environmental policies. Through this AAAS fellowship program, Landrum is a senior scientist in NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP).