Some 30 Mediterranean MPA managers and other stakeholders came together at the mutual learning workshop of the Interreg Med Plastic Busters MPAs project, that aims to consolidate Mediterranean efforts against marine litter and preserve natural ecosystems in pelagic and coastal marine protected areas of the Mediterranean.

The workshop, which took place at Deltebre from the 24th to the 25th of November 2021, featured and fully exploited the knowledge, know-how, experience and lessons learned from the implementation of the Plastic Busters MPAs demos aiming to prevent and mitigate marine litter. The demos operationalized a set of different marine litter solutions, including the establishment of a derelict fishing gear management scheme, the creation of a SUPs-free HORECAs network, the promotion of best practices for the sustainable management of mussel farming nets, the setup of a reusable cup delivery system for beach bars, the development of a network of collection points for beverage containers, the adopt-a-beach scheme, etc.

The Ebro Delta Natural Park is honoured to co-organise and host this important workshop and to share its experience in tackling the marine litter issue. We fully support the Plastic Busters MPAs project that empowered us to undertake concrete action to mitigate the marine litter global problem at local level”, says Xavier Abril Ferrer, manager of the Ebro Delta Natural Park. Within the framework of Plastic Busters MPAs, the Ebro Delta Natural Park launched this summer a pilot action on establishing a reusable cup distribution system for beach bars and festivals in the 7 municipalities of the Park. To date, more than 15,000 reusable cups have been distributed to 14 beach bars and 9 popular festivals, contributing to the significant reduction of single-use cups used.

The workshop brought together two major groups of participants: (i) MPA managers that have a central role to play in initiating the implementation of marine litter measures in their MPAs; (ii) environmental NGOs and decision-makers at regional, national and local levels that not only are key actors for the development of marine litter measures, but also are instrumental in promoting replication and upscaling actions. The participants of the workshop had the opportunity to intensively network on the issue of marine litter as well as to contribute to enriching and strengthening the project actions with their experiences.

This mutual learning experience marked the end of a long process of preparation and implementation of marine litter mitigation demo projects within selected MPAs. It has been a great satisfaction to see Mediterranean MPA managers and experts sharing their on-the-ground experiences with other participants willing to transfer this knowledge to their own area. We were glad that this exchange could finally be in-person, in the amazing Natural Park of Ebro Delta, which made this workshop even more special after so many months of online exchanges and virtual activities with the partners.”, says Magali Outters, Team Leader, Policy Area of SCP/RAC.

This workshop has been truly a rewarding experience highlighting that MPAs can serve as a unifying force and catalyst for change towards litter-free coasts and seas through the collective operationalization of targeted prevention and mitigation actions. We have learned so much from each other in just two days and we go back home with renewed inspiration and impetus for accelerating our efforts to slash marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean.”, concludes Thomais Vlachogianni, Senior Programme Officer of MIO-ECSDE.

The workshop was organized by SCP/RAC, MIO-ECSDE and ISPRA, in close cooperation with the Management Body of the Ebro Delta Natural Park and partook in the celebrations of the 1st Day of the Mediterranean of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Read in French here