Monitoring & assessing marine litter

OSPAR Litter Monitoring

Monitoring and assessment of marine litter is a key part of OSPAR’s work both in support of the 2nd Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter and more generally as a contribution to wider state of the environment reporting. ICG-ML has oversight of the marine litter monitoring and assessment work and has a strong interest in ensuring close alignment between evidence and policy. As part of the next Quality Status Report (QSR) due in 2023, ICG-ML will be responsible for the development of a “thematic assessment”, combining results from the indicator assessments with other information including on the effectiveness of measures. For those Contracting Parties who are European Union (EU) Member States the QSR will, wherever possible, deliver outputs that are compatible with Marine Strategy Framework Directive reporting requirements in order to minimise the reporting efforts of Member States in 2024. It will, moreover, have a wider geographic scope reflecting the extent of the OSPAR Maritime Area. OSPAR marine litter experts are part of the EU Technical Group on Marine Litter ensuring that methods are aligned and used in the wider European and global context.

Marine Litter Indicator Assessments

OSPAR currently assesses beach litter, seabed litter, plastic particles in fulmar stomachs, and litter ingested by sea turtles as common indicators. These allow the abundance, trends and composition of marine litter in the OSPAR Maritime Area to be determined for different marine components (coast, seafloor and floating) and gives also an indication of the extent marine species are impacted.

Development of an indicator for microplastics in sediment continues. The aim is that updated assessments of all the OSPAR marine litter indicators will be included in the next QSR in 2023.