Litter in the Mediterranean Sea

  • François GalganiEmail author
Conference paper


In the Mediterranean Sea human activities generate considerable amounts of waste, and quantities are increasing, although they vary between countries. To support actions to be taken in order to minimize impacts on the marine environment, the European Commission included recently marine litter as one of the descriptor of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), establishing a framework within which Member States must take action to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES). Beside, the Barcelona convention with its Regional Action is coordinating the monitoring of marine litter and support the implementation of reduction measures. As necessary steps, a better management will then need to (i) increase our knowledge and further development of data analysis in all regions, enabling to map areas at risk and sources, (ii) develop supporting tools for larger scale assessments, including harmonized databases, (iii) a better definition of thresholds, baselines and targets, to better understand harm and finally (iv) a coordinated monitoring. Research, supported by many institutions has then become critical and priorities include (i) a better definition of standardized/harmonized protocols, (ii) research on nanoparticles at sea, (iii) a better understanding of circulation and transport (iv) an increased knowledge of the ecology of microbial life on plastic and consequences on degradation, species dispersion and release of chemicals, and (v) a better understanding of the interactions between plastic and marine organisms. Using some examples, the process of the implementation of monitoring is described and discussed in the context of reduction measures.


Mediterranean sea Marine litter Microplastics Monitoring 


  1. Angiolillo M, di Lorenzo B, Farcomeni A, Bo M, Bavestrello G, Santangelo G, Cau A, Mastascusa V, Cau A, Sacco F, Canese S (2015) Distribution and assessment of marine debris in the deep Tyrrhenian Sea (NW Mediterranean Sea, Italy). Mar Pollut Bull 92:149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arcadis (2014) Marine litter study to support the establishment of an initial headline reduction target- SFRA0025? European commission/DG ENV. Project number BE0113.000668, 127 pGoogle Scholar
  3. CIESM (2014) Plastic Litter and the dispersion of alien species and contaminants in the Mediterranean sea. Ciesm Workshop No 46 (Coordination F Galgani), Tirana, 18–21 Juin 2014, 172 pGoogle Scholar
  4. Galgani F, Henry M, Orsoni V, Nolwenn C, Bouchoucha M, Tomasino C (2011a) MACRO-DECHETS en Méditerranée française: Etat des connaissances, analyses des données de la surveillance et recommandations. Rapport IFREMER, RST.DOP/LER-PAC/2011, pp 42Google Scholar
  5. Galgani F, Hanke G, Werner S, De Vrees L (2013a) Marine litter within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. ICES J Mar Sci 70(6):1055–1064. Scholar
  6. Galgani F, Piha H, Hanke G, Werner S, GES MSFD group (2011b) Marine litter: technical recommendations for the implementation of MSFD requirements. EUR 25009 EN. Luxembourg (Luxembourg): Publications Office of the European Union. JRC67300. (
  7. Galgani F, Hanke G, Werner S, Oosterbaan L, Nilsson P, Fleet D, Kinsey S, Thompson RC, van Franeker J, Vlachogianni T, Scoullos M, Mira Veiga J, Palatinus A, Matiddi M, Maes T, Korpinen S, Budziak A, Leslie H, Gago J, Liebezeit G (2013b) Monitoring guidance for marine litter in European seas. JRC Scientific and Policy Reports. Report EUR 26113 EN, 120 p. (
  8. Galgani F, Hanke G, Maes T (2015) Global distribution, composition and abundance of marine litter. In: Bergmann M, Gutow L, Klages M (eds) Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Springer, Cham, pp 29–56 Scholar
  9. Interwies E, Görlitz S, Stöfen A, Cools J, Van Breusegem W, Werner S, de Vrees L (2013) Issue paper to the “International Conference on Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in European Seas”. Final Version, 16 May 2013, 111 p. (
  10. Matiddi M, van Franeker JA, Sammarini V, Travaglini A, Alcaro L (2011) Monitoring litter by sea turtles: an experimental protocol in the mediterranean. In: Proceedings of the 4th mediterranean conference on sea turtles, 7–10 Nov, Naples, p 129Google Scholar
  11. Oosterhuis F, Papyrakis E, Boteler B (2014) Economic instruments and marine litter control. Ocean Coast Manag 102:47–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pham C, Ramirez-Llodra E, Claudia HS, Amaro T, Bergmann M, Canals M, Company J, Davies J, Duineveld G, Galgani F, Howell K, Huvenne Veerle A, Isidro E, Jones D, Lastras G, Morato T, Gomes-Pereira J, Purser A, Stewart H, Tojeira I, Tubau X, Van Rooij D, Tyler P (2014) Marine litter distribution and density in european seas, from the shelves to deep basins. Plos One 9(4):e95839. Publisher’s official version. Scholar
  13. Romeo T, Battaglia P, Peda C, Consoli T, Andaloro F, Fossi C (2015) First evidence of presence of plastic debris in stomachs from large pelagic fish in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar Pollut Bull 95(1):358–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ten Brink P, Lutchman I, Bassi S, Speck S, Sheavly S, Register K, Woolaway C (2009) Guidelines on the use of market-based instruments to address the problem of marine litter. Institute for European Environmental policy (IEEP), Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  15. Tweehuysen G (2015) Sampling River litter: preliminary results. Micro-2015. Seminar of the Defishgear project, Abstract book, Piran, 4–6 May 2015, p 29Google Scholar
  16. UNEP/ MAP (2015) Updated report on marine litter assessment in the mediterranean sea. Meeting of the MAP focal points, Athens, Greece, 13–16 Oct 2015. UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.421/Inf.18, 84 pGoogle Scholar
  17. Vianello A, Acri F, Aubry F, Boldrin A, Camati E, Da Ros L, Merceta T, Moschind V (2015) Occurrence of floating microplastics in the North Adriatic Sea: preliminary results. Micro 2015. Seminar of the Defishgear project, Abstract book, Piran, 4–6 May 2015, p 43Google Scholar
  18. Gallego Z (2015) Guide on best practices for fishing for litter in the Mediterranean. UNEP/MAP document, 17 pGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFREMER, LER/PAC, ZI FurianiBastiaFrance

Personalised recommendations