The issue at stake
The Mediterranean is one of the seas most affected by marine litter worldwide. The threats marine litter poses to wildlife and ecosystems are increasingly documented in scientific literature, with impacts varying from entanglement and ingestion, to bio-accumulation and bio-magnification of toxics released from plastics, to damages to benthic habitats and species.
The Barcelona Convention’s Regional Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean and the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive have helped things advance in the right direction. Yet there is still a long way ahead towards implementing policy commitments and effectively reducing marine litter and the risks it poses 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 and addressed. But one thing is clear: that prevention and mitigation measures are urgently needed.