Assessing marine litter in the Mediterranean

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Marine litter is one of the most serious, rapidly developing and worsening global environmental problems. Plastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment, in vast quantities and are present even on the most remote areas of the planet. This is evident in certain areas of the globe for which plastics can be found in excess, constituting more than 80% of the recorded marine litter items. Periodic assessments of the state of the marine environment, monitoring and the formulation of environmental targets are perceived as part of the adaptive management process within Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and within Regional Sea Convention (RSC) Action Plans, and has become a major concern for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

A new report titled Monitoring and Assessment guidelines for Marine Litter in Mediterranean MPAs has been recently released in the framework of the project AMAre on ARCHIMER website (IFREMER‘s institutional repository), and it can be freely downloaded here. As part of the AMAre project, the main purpose of this report is to provide advice and practical guidance, for establishing programs to monitor and assess the distribution and abundance of marine litter in MPAs. The guidelines cover all types of marine litter on shorelines, floating on the sea surface, deposited on the seabed or associated with biota (ingested/encrusted/entangled). More in detail, the report build on relevant existing monitoring and assessment practices in the Mediterranean, such as the existing monitoring practices in UNEP/MAP and within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The proposed strategy (defining the sampling scheme, the environmental compartment to monitor and the protocols to be used) is also following the recommendations of the UN GESAMP report on monitoring marine litter (GESAMP, 2019). In addition, it is based on the experience of ongoing monitoring and assessment activities under various scientific projects in the Mediterranean Sea (CleanSea, Marelitt, Perseus, Marlisco, Ac4forlitter, INDICIT, MEDseaLitter, Plastic Buster MPA, PANACEA, Life projects, etc.), and also considers the available scientific literature.

The CMCC team on marine litter modeling from OPA – Ocean Predictions and Applications Division, researchers Svitlana Liubartseva, Giovanni Coppini and Rita Lecci, have contributed to the marine litter pollution problem in the framework of AMAre project. The results of CMCC research have been recently published on Marine Pollution Bulletin.
In this study, comparisons of six selected Mediterranean MPAs were conducted to find similarities and site-specific differences in coastline fluxes and sources of plastic marine litter. Results highlight that shipping plays a key role in plastic pollution for all studied MPAs, contributing 55%–88% of total plastic.

For further information:
Read the integral version of the report:
Galgani Francois, Deidun Alan, Liubartseva Svitlana, Gauci Adam, Doronzo Bartholomeo, Brandini Carlo, Gerigny Olivia (2019). Monitoring and Assessment guidelines for Marine Litter in Mediterranean MPAs.

Read the integral version of the study:
Liubartseva, S., Coppini, G., Lecci, R., 2019. Are Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas sheltered from plastic pollution? Mar. Pollut. Bull., 140, 579–587.

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