Ashley Letcher 2016 NSF REU student and M.S. student at Georiga State University writes,
I presented research from the first year Belize REU at the 6th International Marine Debris Conference hosted by NOAA and UN Environment in San Diego, California. Over 54 countries were represented with over 700 participants to discuss the latest research and policy of marine debris pollution. I was fortunate to present my talk titled “Understanding Marine Debris in Belize through Citizen Science and Participatory GIS”. My talk emphasized the significance of community engagement in scientific research and the benefits of local stakeholders in the development of methodology used in data collection.
While at the conference, I met numerous inspiration leaders and advocates for marine health. I participated in a plastic pollution monitoring cruise with Captain Charles Moore aboard the ORV Agalita.
Using a Van Veen grab and a Manta trawl, we sampled several sites within the bay and along the coast to get a first-hand look at the marine debris along San Diego’s coast. This experience was both rewarding and inspirational. I am grateful to have experienced so many informative talks about the importance of mitigating marine debris globally.