In 1988, National Marine Fisheries Service scientists collected information on type, source, and abundance of marine debris caught during annual bottom trawl surveys off Oregon, in the eastern Bering Sea, and in Norton Sound. Numbers of indi- vidual debris items caught were tallied by haul. When possible, the nationality of origin was determined. Animals entangled or associated with debris items were noted. Debris items were categorized by material (e.g., plastic, glass) and use (e.g., galley wastes, fishing equipment). Effort in square kilometers trawled was calculated for each haul from distance fished and average net width measurements. Average catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) in numbers of items per square kilometer was calculated for individual debris items, major categories, and total debris by area and for combined areas.
Of the 696 hauls surveyed, 70 were off Oregon, 541 in the eastern Bering Sea, and 85 in Norton Sound. Marine debris was most abundant off Oregon, occurring in 70% of the hauls and averaging 149.6 items/km2. In the eastern Bering Sea, 23% of the hauls caught marine debris, for an average of 7.5 items/km2. Norton Sound had the least amount of debris. It occurred in 7% of the hauls and averaged 1.9 items/km2. Galley wastes dominated debris in Oregon (64% of the total CPUE) and in the eastern Bering Sea (40% of the total CPUE), followed by engineering/processing wastes. Fishing equipment debris was abundant in the eastern Bering Sea (1.86 items/km2) and off Oregon (1.69 items/km2), but was not found in Norton Sound. Plastic debris was found in all three areas, but was most abundant in the eastern Bering Sea. Debris of foreign origin accounted for 70% of the total CPUE of all debris found in the eastern Bering Sea; however, domestic debris dominated off Oregon (88% of the total CPUE) and in Norton Sound (100% of the total CPUE).