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Composition and Distribution of Marine Anthropogenic Litter in the Barents Sea

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Large-scale monitoring of anthropogenic marine litter in the Barents Sea was carried out in 2012–2018. The marine litter composition was estimated by recording by-catch from pelagic and bottom trawling. Litter on the sea surface (floating litter) was also taken into account during visual observations. The contents of 949 pelagic and 1477 bottom trawls were analyzed. Marine litter was recorded in 256 pelagic and 571 bottom trawl catches and in 454 cases during visual observations. Litter was sorted into plastic, wood, metal, rubber, textiles, paper, and glass. The occurrence of plastic prevailed in all litter records. It covered 71% of marine litter observed on the surface, 97% in pelagic trawls, and 78% in bottom trawls. Fishery litter prevailed in plastic litter (about 65% of its weight). Wood was recorded in 19% of surface litter observations, 1% in pelagic trawls and 13% in bottom ones. Metal, rubber, paper, textiles, and glass were occasionally observed; however, their weight (except glass) could be very large. Thus, metal and wood prevailed by weight on the bottom (45 and 36.8%, respectively). Wood prevailed in pelagic layers, being 73% of the total litter weight. The volume of plastic and wood prevailed on the sea surface (50 and 47%, respectively). The average density of all types of litter on the sea bottom was about 7.9 kg/km2. Some significant differences in the litter composition were recorded between the southwestern and northeastern areas of the Barents Sea.

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Correspondence to M. A. Novikov, E. A. Gorbacheva, T. A. Prokhorova or M. N. Kharlamova.

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Translated by D. Zabolotny

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Novikov, M.A., Gorbacheva, E.A., Prokhorova, T.A. et al. Composition and Distribution of Marine Anthropogenic Litter in the Barents Sea. Oceanology 61, 48–57 (2021).

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