In 1987, our government ratified an international treaty that made it illegal to dump plastic trash overboard within the sea boundaries of certain countries. Then, in 1988, the Ocean Dumping Reform Act made it illegal for cities to dump their raw sewage directly into the ocean. This was followed by the actions of many corporations, private foundations, and interested individuals to help clean up our beaches and stop ocean waste. Their actions helped bring about the 2006 Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act. This piece of legislation offers federal grants to interested parties who are willing to undergo marine cleanup efforts.
Despite these best efforts, worldwide oceanic pollution continues to rise. Besides being ugly to look at, trash at sea threatens the delicate marine ecosystems that are found there. Plant and animal life could be altered, even wiped out. Even if dumping were to stop completely today, the damage that's already been done might take years (if ever) to overcome.
Through public awareness campaigns, the actions of our federal government, and the efforts of worldwide governments and organizations, the fight to save our oceans is gaining momentum. But, it is going to take more than that. Perhaps it will require a sacrifice on the part of manufacturers to revert back to biodegradable/recyclable packages and containers. Maybe we as consumers will have to cut back on our over-indulgences and extravagant consumptions. It seems everybody agrees that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
It is the opinion of many experts, though, that it's going to take tougher, stricter governmental measures to "stem the tide" of waterway pollution. As the NYTimes says,
"For ages humanity saw in the ocean a sublime grandeur suggestive of eternity . . . Now it is the sublime grandeur of our civilization but also of our waste that inspires awe."