The impacts of marine debris can be visible or hidden and can range from simply ugly to deadly. Cigarette butts and plastic bottles on our beaches are a nuisance and can easily ruin a beautiful day in the sun. But it's what you don't see that can be even more harmful.
Debris that washes into the ocean and waterways poses a significant danger to humans and animals. Dolphins, whales and turtles can easily get tangled in fishing gear. The items sometimes found in the stomachs of sea turtles are pretty shocking - everything from plastic bags to styrofoam packing peanuts.
Debris that settles on the bottom of the ocean can destroy critical habitat while suspended debris can get wrapped around boat propellers or endanger the lives of recreational divers.
Keeping our coastal environment clean is everyone's responsibility. Together, we must protect our coastal heritage by being more aware of the negative impact our litter and lost fishing gear can have on our environment and to take steps to remove debris.
Since 2004, DHEC has worked with federal, state and local partners to leverage the removal of over 90 abandoned vessels from coastal waterways stretching from Horry County to Hilton Head. However, this program does not relieve boat owners from their responsibility to properly manage and dispose of their vessels.