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Virginia CZM Program: 2015 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task Number:VA CZM logo



Longwood University

Project Title:

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

Project Description:

This grant will support refinement and Phase 2 implementation of the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan (VMDRP), originally funded under FY11 Task 95.03 and subsequently under FY14 Task 95.03.  The four  VMDRP near-term (2015-16) priorities stated in the plan are:

1. Establish an on-going Virginia marine debris advisory committee.

2. Develop and implement a social marketing campaign targeting behaviors that result in a common, persistent and harmful marine debris item: balloons.

3. 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).

4. 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 ensure that progress will be made on implementing Phase 2 of the plan through work on the priorities listed above.  

The second near-term VMDRP priority has begun to be addressed through two grants:  FY14 CZM Task 95.03 (which runs through 12/31/2015) and a $50,000 grant from NOAA’s Marine Debris program that runs through September 30, 2016.  These grants are addressing 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. 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 or the FY14 CZM grant, including: the continued engagement of a research firm with an expertise in social marketing to work with Virginia CZM Program and Clean Virginia Waterways (CVW) staff in evaluating the results and successes of the social marketing campaign.  The social marketing research firm will also provide feedback to CZM & partners regarding their social marketing skills and knowledge that were developed over the course of the campaign. This grant will also allow for some monitoring of balloon debris to help evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy, and some supplies to support the implementation of the social marketing campaign. 

Finally, this Virginia CZM Program grant will allow for the planning and execution of the Second Virginia Marine Debris Summit to be held in March 2016. Since the first summit (held in February 2013, supported by FY11 Task 95.02), experts in the marine debris, litter prevention, and related fields have expressed keen interest in continuing the discussion and exchange of research outcomes as well as ideas. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Katie Register; 434.395.2602;

Project Status:

10/1/15 - 9/30/16; Project Completed

Final Product:

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

Project Summary:

Final Project Summary was not received. 

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

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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