Stony Brook, NY - Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces a partnership with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Suffolk County’s Environmental Planning Department to create a Marine Debris Education Awareness Program.
Our oceans have a system of currents driven by the global wind system and by the movement of water due to differences in temperature and salinity called Gyres. The ocean currents can take plastic and garbage debris, released from ships and land, great distances to reach Gyres, where the plastics accumulate to form “garbage patches”.
A massive garbage patch the size of Mexico was recently discovered in the South Pacific Ocean. This is in addition to the North Pacific Garbage Patch found in 1997, measuring a million square miles in size, and the North Atlantic Patch located off the coast of Long Island. The floating plastic debris particles can be microscopic in size, making it difficult to clean up. Over 8 million tons of plastic trash ends up in our oceans every year, and 90% of seabirds and marine life consume the debris, which can then be consumed by humans.
In 2015, Legislator Anker co-sponsored legislation to ban microbeads in Suffolk County. Microbeads are tiny plastic particles found in personal care products, which were banned nationally, following Suffolk County’s lead, after research showed not only were microbeads bad for our environment but a health concern for people.
“We all must be accountable and take an active role to prevent and repair the damage that has been done to our marine ecosystem that directly effects our global environment,” said Legislator Anker. “To address this issue, I have facilitated a partnership with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Suffolk County’s Environmental Planning Department to create a Marine Debris Education Awareness Program.”
Legislation will be submitted this cycle to formalize the partnership, and Legislator Anker will be pursuing Suffolk County’s 477 Water Quality Funds to provide seed money for the program. Dr. Katherine Aubrecht, Director of Coastal Environmental Studies at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences will collaborate with the county to produce presentation materials to be used for educational programs tailored to different audiences on how we can reduce and address ocean pollution.
Aubrecht notes that “Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences has a long history of research and education on plastic waste in the oceans and we look forward to partnering with Suffolk County.”
“We live on an island surrounded by water, which gives us an even greater role in protecting our water. We can all be part of the solution by keeping trash, especially plastic, out of our oceans, and volunteering to clean up our beaches,” said Legislator Anker. “It’s time every person, community, and nation join together to remove the ocean debris from our waters. We can then breathe easy and hope our marine ecosystem can, too.”
In her time in office, Legislator Anker has supported the approval of over 2000 acres of open space and farm land preservation. Most recently, legislation sponsored by Legislator Anker was unanimously approved to begin appraisal sets for a 9.9 acre wooded parcel near Pine Lake in Middle Island for open space preservation. She also began the legislative process at the General Meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature on March 20, 2018 to approve the preservation of a 3.42 acre parcel near Whiskey Road, adjacent to the Pine Barrens Compatible Growth Area under the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program.
For more information, please contact Legislator Anker’s office at (631) 854-1600.