Marine Litter (EO10)

EO 10 Marine litter

Marine and coastal litter do not adversely affect coastal and marine environment

Key Messages:

  • Information on beach marine litter (CI 22) exists but the picture is still fragmented and is geographically restricted to the northern part of the Mediterranean. Plastics are the major components with cigarette butts, food wrappers and plastic bags being the top marine litter items. Land-based sources are predominant but they have to be further specified. Tourism is directly affecting marine litter generation on beaches.
  • Information on the distribution, quantities and identification of beach marine litter sources needs to be further advanced. For the moment information and data are inconsistent for the Mediterranean. There is an urgent need to develop and implement the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme for the Mediterranean Sea and Coast (IMAP) related to Common Indicator 22, and corresponding data are submitted to the Secretariat at national level.
  • Accumulation rates of floating litter vary widely in the Mediterranean Sea and are subject to factors such as adjacent urban activities, shore and coastal uses, winds, currents, and accumulation areas. Additional basic information is still required before an accurate global litter assessment can be provided. Moreover, the available data are geographically restricted in the northern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The abundance of floating litter (CI 23) in Mediterranean waters has been reported at quantities measuring over 2 cm range from 0 to over 600 items per square kilometer. The 2015 UN Environment/MAP Marine Litter Assessment report states that approximately 0.5 billion litter items are currently lying on the Mediterranean Seafloor. There is great variability in the abundance of seafloor marine litter items ranging from 0 to over 7,700 items per km² depending on the study area. The information on floating and seafloor marine litter in the Mediterranean is fragmented and is spatially restricted mainly to its northern part and no basin-scale conclusions can be exerted as information is only available at local level. However, there are many areas with significant marine litter densities, ranging from 0 to over 7,700 items per km² depending on the study area. Plastic is the major marine litter component, found widespread in the continental shelf of the Mediterranean, ranging up to 80% and 90% of the recorded marine litter items.
  • Data on floating and seafloor marine litter are inconsistent and geographically restricted in only few areas of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to that, the lack on long-term assessment data makes the assessment of trends of the years extremely difficult. Sources needs also to be further specified and linked to macro- and micro-litter contribution. Moreover, monitoring and assessment of marine litter should be done in a consistent way, based on common protocols and standardized methods, leading to comparable results at basin scale. Effective management practices are also missing, requiring strong policy will and societal engagement. Further work should also be promoted towards identifying marine litter sources more precisely. Cooperation and collaboration between the major marine litter partners in the region with common priority actions is also considered important.

Regular reporting for all Ecological Objectives should be established/strengthened.