- UNEP/MAP/MED POL
- Geographical scale of the assessment:
- Mediterranean Sea
- Contributing countries:
- Mediterranean assessment based on existing regional and national surveys, research and publications and as appropriate data from national monitoring programmes of the Contracting Parties.
- Mid-Term Strategy (MTS) Core Theme:
- 1-Land and Sea Based Pollution
- Ecological Objective:
- Ecological Objective 10 (EO10): Marine and coastal litter do not adversely affect the coastal and marine environment
- IMAP Common Indicator:
- Common Indicator 23 (CI23): Trends in the amount of litter in the water column including microplastics and on the seafloor
- Indicator Assessment Factsheet Code:
GES Definition: Number/amount of marine litter items in the water surface and the seafloor do not have negative impacts on human health, marine life, ecosystem services and do not create risk to navigation
- State: Decreasing trend in the number/amount of marine litter items in the water surface and the seafloor
The marine environment is directly linked to human life. Nowadays, marine litter is found widespread in the environment, from shallow water till the deep abyssal plains, posing one of the major threats for the marine environment.
The Mediterranean Sea has been described as one of the areas most affected by marine litter in the world. Human activities generate considerable amounts of waste, and quantities are increasing, although they vary between countries. Some of the largest amounts of municipal solid waste (MSW), generated annually per person occur in the Mediterranean Sea (208 – 760 kg/year, http://atlas.d-waste.com/). Plastic, which is the main marine litter component, has now become ubiquitous and may comprise up to 90% for seafloor litter.
The current assessment has been based on recent key assessments, reports and publications by the UN Environment/MAP, and other projects and initiatives. The UN Environment/MAP 2015 Marine Litter Assessment in the Mediterranean report has been used as the main source for this indicator assessment factsheet. For the moment, there is no reporting toUN Environment /MAP on floating and seafloor marine litter and the assessment is based on the available data and information from reports and scientific publications. Several approaches, protocols and units (items/km, items/km2, kg/km2, kg/h) have been used. However, the expression of the abundance of marine litter found float at sea or lying on the seafloor in items per surface are (m2, km2, ha2) coupled with information on weight seems to be the most appropriate. Nowadays the harmonization of all the sampling methodologies is among the top-priorities of the marine litter agenda.
Results and Status, including trends
Floating Marine Litter
The abundance of floating macro and mega litter in Mediterranean waters has been reported at quantities measuring over 2 cm range from 0 to over 600 items per square kilometer (Aliani et al., 2003; UNEP, 2009; Topcu et al., 2010, Gerigny et al., 2011, Suaria and Aliani, 2015) (Figures 1, 2). Plastics are predominant among floating marine macro- and micro-litter items.
Plastic is the main component of floating marine litter and also for those lying on the Mediterranean seafloor, from shallow water, the continental shelf, till the deep abyssal plains. Regarding marine litter (floating and on seafloor) that are accumulating in the Mediterranean basin, no safe conclusion can be drawn for the moment. Probably hydrodynamics and geomorphology favor the constant circulation. More consistent, interconnected and interlinked studies need to be promoted in order to have a better picture at basin scale. The comparability of the existing and future studies seem to be a key point towards an integrated assessment at basin scale.
- The abundance of floating litter in Mediterranean waters has been reported at quantities measuring over 2 cm range from 0 to over 600 items per square kilometer (Aliani et al., 2003; UNEP, 2009; Topcu et al., 2010, Gerigny et al., 2011, Suaria and Aliani, 2015).
- The 2015 UN Environment/MAP Marine Litter Assessment report states that approximately 0.5 billion litter items are currently lying on the Mediterranean Seafloor. Moreover, there is great variability in the abundance of seafloor marine litter items ranging from from 0 to over 7,700 items per km² depending on the study area.
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