Saturday, November 10, 2007

Special Announcement: Ocean Conservancy's Spruill Joins First Lady to Announce White House Plan on Marine Debris

On Friday, November 2, Ocean Conservancy’s President and CEO Vikki Spruill joined First Lady Laura Bush as the White House unveiled a new initiative to address marine debris during the dedication ceremony of the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center-Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The First Lady has championed marine debris prevention since witnessing firsthand the extent of the problem while visiting the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument. Spruill was invited to represent the conservation community at the Biloxi event due in large part to Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest volunteer effort to improve the health of the ocean and its wildlife.

The White House plan calls for an increase in public/private partnerships on cleanups, enhanced public education on debris prevention and an emphasis on international cooperation to end dumping in the ocean. Spruill lauded the First Lady’s leadership on marine debris.

“I am excited about the synergies between the new White House plan for addressing marine debris and Ocean Conservancy’s ongoing work. Trash in our ocean kills and injures wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, and coastal communities bear the economic costs of debris removal, lost tourism and lower property values - but there is hope. The world over, from Biloxi to Bangladesh, people are uniting to solve the problem of marine debris,” said Spruill. “The First Lady’s dedication to the issues we have been fighting for is inspiring -- and, it gives a big push to the sea change that is underway.”

For 22 years, Ocean Conservancy has convened the Cleanup in which almost a half a million volunteers in nearly 70 countries spend a few hours removing trash and debris from beaches, lakes, rivers and other waterways and record what they find. Last year, the Cleanup removed 7 million pounds of debris. Ocean Conservancy uses the data to promote debris prevention, public education, and advocacy.

Spruill linked efforts like the White House initiative, the Scott Center and the Cleanup to the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program (NMDMP), the first-ever scientific study of marine debris, released the same day by Ocean Conservancy. The NMDMP report was a 10-year joint effort by Ocean Conservancy and EPA and is a watershed moment in our understanding of the sources and types of debris in our ocean. Results indicate that most of the debris in the ocean comes from land-based human activities.

Laura Capps
Senior Vice President for Communications and Outreach
Ocean Conservancy

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