A little over three years have passed since the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Environment of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) – namely the 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Union – adopted a novel and ambitious Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Athens, February 2016). This landmark agreement provides the enabling framework for carrying out an integrated analysis of the state of the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean as a means towards achieving good environmental status.

At a 4-day meeting of the correspondence group on pollution monitoring (CORMON), held in Podgorica from 2 to 5 April 2019, some 50 Mediterranean marine pollution experts were brought together to take stock of the progress achieved so far when it comes to the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme, with regards to three ecological objectives, namely eutrophication (EO5), contaminants (EO9) and marine litter (E10). To-date, the non-EU Mediterranean countries have updated their national monitoring programmes and have aligned them with the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme, while the EU Mediterranean countries have advanced in implementing their monitoring and assessment programs in line with the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

MIO-ECSCE, within its long-standing role of being a MAP partner, actively contributed to the meeting particularly by providing input to the discussions held related to marine litter. In this respect, one of the main proposals brought forward by the meeting was for MEDPOL and MIO-ECSDE to work together in order to update, finetune and refine the list of marine litter items to be monitored under the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

With regards to marine litter some additional issues were addressed at the meeting including: the definition of the most representative species to be monitored; the methodological approach for monitoring interactions between marine litter and marine turtles (ingestion and entanglement); the methodological elements for monitoring floating microplastics.

Last but not least, the meeting focused on reviewing the proposed Horizon 2020/National Action Plans Indicators on waste management including marine litter, which will be used in framing the upcoming Horizon 2020 thematic assessment on waste.