Workshop on ingested marine litter monitoring & entanglement evidences

Within the framework of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution, the marine litter issue is addressed under the MEDPOL programme1. The Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention adopted in December 2013 the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean aimed at establishing an operational binding framework to tackle the marine litter issue in the Mediterranean. In addition, as part of the Ecosystem Approach implementation, the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) adopted in February 2016 includes the Ecological Objective 10 on Marine Litter. Within this framework, marine litter monitoring is in particular based on the following agreed common and candidate indicators:

– Common Indicator 22: Trends in the amount of litter washed ashore and/or deposited on coastlines (EO10);

– Common Indicator 23: Trends in the amount of litter in the water column including microplastics and on the seafloor (EO10);

– Candidate Indicator 24: Trends in the amount of litter ingested by or entangling marine organisms focusing on selected mammals, marine birds, and marine turtles (EO10).


Monitoring activities are implemented mainly through beach and at-sea surveys. Interactions between marine litter and marine animals are not well assessed, in particular because of the lack of standardized protocols.

In the recent years, UNEP/MAP/SPA-RAC has been working on the development of standardized protocols for monitoring interactions between marine litter and marine turtles (ingestion and entangling).

With regards to monitoring interactions between marine litter and cetaceans, ACCOBAMS is working towards standardizing best practices to collect data on ingested marine litter during cetaceans’ necropsy. The objective is to promote harmonized methodology to be used by the different stranding networks within the ACCOBAMS Area.

This initiative is undertaken in collaboration with IWC (International Whaling Commission), ASCOBANS (CMS Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) and ECS (European Cetacean Society). In particular, a joint ACCOBAMS/ASCOBANS/SPA-RAC workshop on marine debris and cetacean stranding was organized in April 2018 in La Spezia, Italy, during the 31st European Cetacean Society Conference (ECS).