Assessing marine litter on Mediterranean beaches. Filling in the knowledge gaps via a participatory-science initiative. Vlachogianni Th, MIO-ECSDE, 2019

Throughout the years Mediterranean NGOs have significantly contributed to providing data and information on the temporal and spatial distribution of marine litter found stranded on beaches. Monitoring surveys, adopt-a-beach schemes or beach clean-up campaigns are the most popular approaches used. On the other hand, several Mediterranean governments within their formal marine litter monitoring programmes are considering community-based data collection initiatives as a useful tool to fill in the knowledge gaps. The involvement of NGOs in data collection is increasingly seen to be a cost-effective way to gather required evidence and detect emerging issues. Essentially, NGOs are supporting public authorities to improve their efficiency with less administrative burden.

In the second part of 2018 MIO-ECSDE set up and implemented a participatory-science campaign in order to fill in the knowledge gaps with regards to marine litter found on Mediterranean beaches. The results provide fit-for-purpose data for the effective management of marine litter in the region. The campaign – carried out within the framework of the Annual Programme of MIO-ECSDE supported by the LIFE+ Operating Grant for NGOs- brought together 7 environmental NGOs from 5 EU Member States, namely: AKTI PROJECT AND RESEARCH CENTRE (Cyprus), HELMEPA (Greece), MAREVIVO (Italy), MIO-ECSDE (Greece), SEAQUARIUM MARINE INSTITUTE (FRANCE), SUNCE (Croatia) and U MARINU (France).

To-date, the present study is one of the very few collective efforts of NGOs to assess, in a comprehensive and harmonized way, marine litter deposited on Mediterranean beaches. The present study provides fit-for-purpose data and baseline information on the amounts, composition and sources of marine litter in several Mediterranean beaches. It is a useful tool for decision-makers to gear up their efforts in the combat against the marine litter threat and identify targeted measures to tackle this threat at its source.

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