The first EU ML quantitative Threshold Value by using EMODnet Chemistry data
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC) requires European threshold values (TVs) for all descriptors to be defined. In particular, for marine litter (descriptor 10), the MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter (TG ML) decided that coastline macro litter, commonly referred as beach litter, would be the first marine litter issue to be faced. This topic is included in the primary D10 Criterion 1, as stated in the Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848.
The decision was made following the availability of a “fit-for-purpose” EU baseline dataset for beach litter, necessary to check its compliance against the TVs. The European baseline dataset required “fit-for-purpose” quality data, i.e. data collected using at least comparable monitoring protocols, with sufficient spatial and temporal coverage, and filtered by agreed data clean-up rules to ensure comparability.
The first EU Marine Litter quantitative Threshold value was computed using a subset of data from the pan-European Marine Litter database (MLDB), developed and maintained by EMODnet Chemistry.
The MLDB was previously used to compute the EU Marine Litter quantitative Baselines, in particular, the official monitoring data regarding litter on beaches over the period 2015-2016. These data come from the monitoring framework in place at the EU scale, ensuring that comparable monitoring protocols were used.
EMODnet Chemistry collected, standardised and validated these official monitoring data in strict cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the TG ML. Common data formats, based on existing monitoring protocols and data reporting formats were used in this process. Additionally, several controls on formal aspects and metadata were undertaken to ensure a consistent data collection.
The 10th percentile value of this MLDB subset was calculated in order to ensure a robust Threshold value. The TV assessment method took into account both environmental protection and socio-economic issues, that is why the TV is not equal to zero. Nevertheless, it will take several MSFD cycles to reach this TV. Intermediate targets will be used by TG ML and Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs) to make a manageable pathway towards reaching the TV, as stated in the JRC technical report entitled: A European Threshold Value and Assessment Method for Macrolitter on Coastlines (Van Loon W. et al., 2020.)