The Ocean Protection Council, a state agency formed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger two years ago to oversee California’s ocean and coastal resources, took an aggressive stance against key sources of marine debris after a packed hearing yesterday.
Council members, including Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman and Secretary of Cal-EPA Linda Adams, voted unanimously to pass a resolution that would crack down on single-use plastic food containers, ban plastic packaging containing toxic chemicals, enforce laws against industrial polluters and involve the entire Pacific coastline from Canada to Mexico in efforts to reduce marine debris. The final resolution included a set of detailed recommendations proposed by the Santa Monica-based environmental organization Heal the Bay.
“The Ocean Protection Council’s landmark resolution complements the City of Santa Monica’s efforts to ban polystyrene food packaging, and paves the path for a much needed action on marine debris in the state of California and beyond,” says Sarah Abramson, a Staff Scientist at Heal the Bay.
The passage of this landmark resolution on marine debris complements Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to fight against global warming, and once again demonstrates his nationwide leadership on marine debris.
Specifically, the resolution adopted on Thursday includes these actions:
1. Coordinate a Regional Effort to Reduce Marine Debris – The Ocean Protection Council commits to working with parties to the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health (California, Oregon and Washington) to create, by January 1, 2008, coast-wide goals for marine debris reduction, with such goals to be achieved by no later than 2018. The Council will also invite the participation of British Columbia, Hawaii and Baja California in these efforts.
2. Reduce the Sources of Plastic Marine Debris – The Council will coordinate a Marine Debris Steering Committee of state agencies to expeditiously prepare a plan that includes a phased ban of the most toxic types of plastic packaging, including styrene, bisphenol-A and perfluorooctanoic acid; target reductions of derelict fishing gear; target reductions of pollution by plastic resin pellets (“nurdles”), including handling and transport regulation and related enforcement provisions; target reductions in the use of plastic single-use fast-food packaging and containers; and expansion of the California Redemption Value (CRV) program and increase of processing fee.
3. Continue and Expand Current Cleanup Efforts and Education – The resolution also generally called for interagency cooperation to reduce plastic waste (e.g., investigation of biodegradable packaging alternatives); continued and expanded watershed-based cleanups; increased availability of trash, recycling and cigarette butt receptacles at public places, schools and commercial establishments statewide; and promotion of environmental education and outreach on the impacts of plastic debris and litter prevention.
For more information, go to healthebay.org.