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 RAP-ML 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 CPs who are EU Member States the QSR will, wherever possible, deliver outputs that are compatible with MSFD 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 and plastic particles in fulmar stomachs 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. Updated assessments for beach litter and plastic particles in fulmar stomachs have been agreed in 2019. In addition, the Committee on Environmental Impacts of Human Activities (EIHA), where decisions on marine litter work items are taken, agreed at its 2019 meeting to promote ingestion of litter by sea turtles (in Region IV – Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast) to the status of a common indicator. 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.