Skip to main content

BE2 - Marine Litter on the Seafloor

FieldDescriptionValidated Entry
[Table title]Name of monitoring programmeMarine Litter on the Seafloor
[ProgrammeDescription]Description of the monitoring programme

Seafloor litter is monitored in line with the OSPAR CEMP guidelines.  Marine litter floats, sinks or gets cast on beaches. It is estimated that a large amount of the litter eventually sinks to the sea floor. The monitoring programme is conducted by utilising existing fisheries and environmental trawl surveys in line with guidance of the MSFD Technical Expert Group on Marine Litter ( ).  The existing surveys use bottom trawls to collect biota samples near the seafloor and capture benthic macrolitter as a by-product.  

Within the OSPAR region most fish trawl surveys are coordinated by ICES expert groups. The survey data are covering the Baltic Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, Bay of Biscay and the eastern Atlantic from the Shetlands to Gibraltar. DATRAS (the Database of Trawl Surveys) has been developed to collate and document the survey data, assure data quality, standardise data formats and calculations, and ease data handling and availability. Those existing frameworks and databases have been adapted by the ICES Data Centre to accommodate OSPAR seafloor litter data.

For each survey, the following information was recorded: the definition and specification of the survey, the positions of stop and start of each trawl and its technical specification e.g. wing spread, mesh size of net, cod end and blinders. After each tow, the catch was deposited in the fish pound or hopper before being sorted, then all litter items were manually picked from the entire net, including ground ropes, fishing lines, hopper and cod end and classified. The classification system, is composed of six main categories of litter (Plastic, Metal, Rubber, Glass, Natural and Miscellaneous), each divided into sub-categories (39 in total).

This OSPAR guideline is of relevance to MSFD D10 Criteria 1. Current knowledge related to the distribution of marine litter on the seafloor, its degradation and fate, its potentially harmful biological, physical and chemical impacts on marine life and habitats and the effectiveness of future measures is insufficient. To understand this part of the marine litter issue better information is required on both spatial and temporal differences in marine litter on the seafloor.

[OtherPoliciesConventions]Monitoring for other Union legislation or international agreements that contributes to the programme.OSP-CEMP
[Contracting Parties monitoring]

Which other countries are involved in practical implementation of this monitoring programme, and what is the degree of cooperation.

Coordinated data collection
[Contracting Parties supplying data] DK, ES, UK, DE, NL, NO, SE
[Contracting Parties with an "opt out"]  
[Temporal scope]Start (and end) date of the programme.2012 - 9999
[Spatial scope]Spatial coverage of the programme according to the jurisdictional zones of marine waters.EEZ (or similar, e.g. Contiguous Zone, Fishing Zone, Ecological Protection Zone)
[Aggregation of Data]At which scale can the data from the sub-programme be aggregated for environmental assessments?Subregion, Region, EU
[MarineReportingUnit]Area(s) where the programme takes place.marineSubregion

[Monitoring Purpose]

Purpose of the programme aimed at collecting data and information.Environmental state and impacts
[MonitoringType]Type of monitoring (in-situ, remote sensing, etc.).In-situ sampling offshore
[Indicator Metric]Feature(s) monitored (ecosystem components, pressures, activities).PresEnvLitter
[Elements]Element(s) monitored (e.g. species, habitats, contaminants).Artificial polymer materials
Medical waste
Other materials
Processed/worked wood
Sanitary waste
Artificial polymer materials
Other materials
Artificial polymer materials
Other materials
[Element Monitored] Other Physical Disturbance
[Parameter Measured]Parameter(s) monitored.Quantity and type of litter items
[Monitoring Guidelines/Monitoring Method in place]Guidelines/protocols describing the method for monitoring.OSP-15
[MonitoringMethodOther]Guidelines/protocols describing the method for monitoring.CEMP Guidelines Seafloor Litter Indicator (OSPAR Agreement 2017-06)
MSFD D10 Monitoring Guidance:
IBTS Manual:
Galgani et al. 2000.
[Quality Assurance Procedures in Place]In addition to a specified method, is there any additional Quality Assurance used?National
[Quality Control]What type of Quality Control is used?Real&DelayedValidation
[Data submission Frequency (and deadline)]Frequency of the monitoringYearly
[Applicable MSFD GES Criteria]Indicator(s) to which the programme contributes.D10C1
[Data Depository]Link to where monitoring data can be accessed (Art. 19(3)
[Data Custodian] ICES
[Assessment Guidelines]
[Assessment tools available]  
[Nature of data] Unprocessed
BE2 - Marine Litter on the Seafloor