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Virginia CZM Program: 2014 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:CZM logo



Longwood University 

Project Title:

Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan Refinement and Implementation of Balloon Reduction Social Marketing Campaign 

Project Description as Proposed:

This grant will support refinement and Phase 1 implementation of the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan (VMDRP), funded under FY11 Task 95.03.  Three VMDRP near-term (2014-16) priorities are:
1. Establish an on-going Virginia marine debris advisory committee.
2. Analyze existing legislation and policies and provide recommendations to support waste minimization of the most common items found as marine debris (e.g., single-use plastic bags, food and beverage packaging, balloons, cigarette butts).
3. Explore existing as well as potential future fee and tax structures in Virginia related to litter and recycling.

Having created the VMDRP through a consensus process, the Virginia CZM Program is committed to maintaining a leadership role in its implementation. This grant will insure that progress will be made on implementing Phase 1 of the plan through work on the three priorities listed above. 
The fourth near-term VMDRP priority is to “Develop and implement a social marketing campaign targeting behaviors that result in a common, persistent, and harmful marine debris item: balloons.” This grant will address this priority by supporting the design and implementation of a social marketing campaign titled A Rising Concern: Reducing Balloon Release and Debris through a Social Marketing Campaign.

The Virginia CZM Program has received $50,000 grant from the FY14 NOAA Marine Debris Program to design and implement a social marketing campaign to change behavior and stop mass balloon releases.  Balloons and their attachments are a deadly and all too common source of marine debris.  Incidental and mass balloon releases are often used as a way to celebrate special occasions or to commemorate the loss of loved ones.  Balloons and their attachments (often made of non-biodegradable plastics) can end up in waterways and ultimately the ocean where marine animals can ingest them or become entangled in them, causing injury and even death. 

This Virginia CZM Program grant will enable activities which are not funded under the NOAA Marine Debris Program grant, including: the hire of a research firm with an expertise on social marketing to work with Virginia CZM Program and Clean Virginia Waterways (CVW)  staff in conducting pre-campaign research; production of the campaign strategy’s multi-media materials; and, baseline monitoring of balloon debris to help evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy, and the success of the campaign.  A Campaign Planning Team will inform and contribute to the research, design and implementation of the campaign.  Planning Team members will represent Virginia CZM Program, VA Aquarium & Marine Science Center, (CVW), Virginia Beach Water Quality Task Force, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, MARCO’s Water Quality Action Team, Ocean Conservancy, Keep Norfolk Beautiful, Virginia Beach Clean Water Task Force, Eastern Shore Alliance for Environmental Education, US Fish and Wildlife Service (Chincoteague), The Nature Conservancy, VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, VA Department of Environmental Quality, VA Department of Conservation and Recreation and others.  The VA Chamber of Commerce and VA Tourism will be briefed on the project and invited to participate in the campaign. 

To ensure that the strategy is transferable to other mid-Atlantic states, key leaders in those states will be invited to participate in meetings of the Campaign Planning Team. The goal is to gradually expand the geographic scope of this pilot campaign as the strategy is tested and refined, and new partnerships and support are acquired, so that we build a solid foundation for long-term success. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Katie Register, 434.395.2602;

Project Status:

11/15/14 - 12/31/15; Project Open

Final Product Received:

Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan Refinement and Implementation of Balloon Reduction Social Marketing Campaign Final Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

No Final Project Summary provided.    

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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