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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

Marine Strategy Framework Directive: up-to-date marine litter data from EMODnet Chemistry

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EMODnet Chemistry has recently provided an up-to-date, harmonised and validated dataset for beach litter to the Technical Group on Marine Litter (TGML) for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

The data spanning from 2015 to 2020 comes from 22 Member States, which corrected, updated and resubmitted data already included in the well established EMODnet Chemistry data collection. It is worth mentioning that different protocols were applied to collect these data on macrolitter, including particles larger than 2.5 cm. Currently TGML has been using this dataset to define the new EU quantitative baselines for beach litter. These are a key step for the MSFD implementation as they allow monitoring of environmental trends and the effectiveness of the pollutant reduction measures.

The first baselines were published in 2020 and were based on a subset of the pan-European Marine Litter database developed and maintained by EMODnet Chemistry. The subset counted a total of 3,063 surveys on 389 European beaches in the period from 2012 to 2016. It included data from 22 European countries and all EU regions. This goldmine of data was submitted by EU Member States, National Oceanographic Data Centres, monitoring agencies, and Regional Sea Conventions.

The new baselines data subset includes 4,312 surveys on 376 European beaches, located in all four regions defined within the MSFD, article 4 to establish a common understanding of marine boundaries: the Baltic Sea, the North-east Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. The dataset will also be included in the new data collection, which EMODnet Chemistry experts will use to produce marine litter maps. These data products, which are regularly updated and improved, allow the user to visualise the distribution and abundance of a wide range of marine litter items, as well as to point out its main sources. In this regard, the 2015-2020 data subset provides information on 405 types of marine litter in the reporting period and their quali-quantitative variation over time and space.