One year after taking up the challenge to address the need (read more here) for accurate, coherent and comparable scientific data on marine litter in the Adriatic region to support effective decision making, the DeFishGear project has successfully launched coordinated marine litter monitoring surveys in the seven countries of the Adriatic Sea, namely Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Greece, Slovenia.
Pilot surveys have been designed and are carried out in all environmental compartments (beach, sea surface, seafloor, biota) by deploying a harmonized monitoring approach. The main building blocks of this approach have been the “Guidance Document on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas” developed in 2013 by the EU MSFD Technical Sub-Group on Marine Litter, and the UNEP/MAP MEDPOL draft Monitoring Guidance Document on Ecological Objective 10: Marine Litter (April 2014).
The key elements of the harmonized monitoring framework for marine litter have been elaborated by a group of more than thirty five marine litter experts from all seven countries of the Adriatic Sea, the European Commission, international organizations, including the Regional Sea Convention(s) (Barcelona Convention, OSPAR Convention), Non-Governmental Organizations and other stakeholders at the DeFishGear Working Group Meeting held in Athens, Greece on 12 May 2014 (read more here).
Based on the input received by the aforementioned working group meeting, MIO-ECSDE in close collaboration with the DeFishGear partners prepared:
- a monitoring methodology for beach litter, including a recording sheet and beach identity sheet;
- a monitoring methodology for floating litter, including a recording sheet;
- a monitoring methodology for benthic litter (bottom trawl surveys) including a recording sheet.
In addition, a protocol for sampling plastic pellets for POPs determination was elaborated by the University of Nova Gorica and will be applied along with the beach litter surveys.
The results of the one-year long pilot ‘monitoring’ activities on amounts, composition and potential impacts of marine litter in the Adriatic Sea will be published in a comprehensive assessment report by the beginning of 2016.
Indeed, as said by Dr. Thomais Vlachogianni, MIO-ECSDE Programme Officer leading the marine litter monitoring and assessment activities “the DeFishGear project serves as a pilot showcasing how marine litter coordinated monitoring programmes could be designed and implemented at EU and European Regional Seas level”.