The issue at stake
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most affected areas by marine litter worldwide. Growing scientific literature documents the threats marine litter poses to wildlife and ecosystems, with impacts varying from entanglement and ingestion, to bio-accumulation and bio-magnification of toxics either released from plastic items or adsorbed and accumulated on plastic particles, as well as damages to benthic habitats and communities.
Despite the recent advances made within the framework of the Barcelona Convention Regional Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean and the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Descriptor 10), there is still a long way ahead to implement the policy commitments and reduce effectively the amount of marine litter and the risk posed to Mediterranean marine wildlife. To-date the impacts of marine litter on marine biota, in particular on those species inhabiting Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) remain poorly understood; however recent studies highlight the potential risks posed to endangered, threatened and endemic species dwelling in Mediterranean coastal and pelagic MPAs.