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A Comprehensive First Baseline for Marine Litter Characterization in the Madeira Archipelago (NE Atlantic)


Marine litter is currently worldwide distributed, and plastic is its principal component. Nevertheless, to date, little is known about how this global threat is affecting the marine coastal areas of the Madeira archipelago (NE Atlantic). In this context, we conducted the first comprehensive survey for marine litter characterization in the region, by addressing micro-litter (0.010–5 mm), meso-litter (5–25 mm) and macro-litter (> 25 mm). Our results confirmed that the marine litter issue in Madeira Archipelago is well aligned with what is occurring in other global regions, and plastic is the major component of marine litter, with “plastic-polystyrene” being the most common macro-litter category found. Finally, the different protection status of the sampling areas shows some differences regarding the quantity of macro-litter present as litter abundance in a Marine Protected Area located in the north coast of Madeira has registered lower abundances.

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This work was supported by project PLASMAR (MAC/1.1a/030), with the support of the European Union (EU) and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This study was partially supported by “Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT), Portugal, with national funds (FCT/MCTES, “orçamento de Estado”, project reference PTDC/MAR-PRO/1851/2014), and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE 2020 programme (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016885) through the project “PLASTICGLOBAL – Assessment of plastic-mediated chemicals transfer in food webs of deep, coastal and estuarine ecosystems under global change scenarios”. The project PLASTICGLOBAL is also funded by the Lisboa 2020 programme (LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-016885). S. Álvarez was supported by a Research fellowship for Graduates granted by Agência Regional para o Desenvolvimento da Investigação, Tecnologia e Inovação (ARDITI). I. Gestoso was financially supported by a post-doctoral grant in the framework of the 2015 ARDITI Grant Programme Madeira 14-20 (Project M1420-09-5369-FSE-000001). A. Herrera was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship granted by Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC-2014). J. Canning-Clode was supported by a starting grant in the framework of the 2014 FCT Investigator Programme (IF/01606/2014/CP1230/CT0001). This study had the support of Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), through the strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2019 granted to MARE.

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Correspondence to Soledad Álvarez.

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Álvarez, S., Gestoso, I., Herrera, A. et al. A Comprehensive First Baseline for Marine Litter Characterization in the Madeira Archipelago (NE Atlantic). Water Air Soil Pollut 231, 182 (2020).

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  • Marine litter
  • Madeira Island
  • Plastic
  • Microplastic
  • Macro litter
  • Island ecosystem