Session Chairs: Stefanie Werner, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); John Mouat, OSPAR Commission

 This session will discuss the current status, trends in amounts and composition of marine litter in the North East  Atlantic and what can be done to prevent further introductions and reduce levels.

The North East Atlantic has a diverse marine environment, with a wide range of human activities (e.g. fishing, shipping, aquaculture and offshore oil and gas) and a high coastal population. This has led to levels of marine litter that OSPAR (Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic) Ministers highlighted as unacceptable in 2010. In the following years OSPAR has put in place a monitoring programme to assess levels and trends of marine litter on beaches, the seabed and in biota. In 2014 OSPAR adopted a Regional Action Plan (RAP) on marine litter, as called for at the 5th IMDC, and to address its commitment to “substantially reduce marine litter in the OSPAR Maritime Area to levels where properties and quantities do not cause harm to the marine environment” as also required by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to be achieved by 2020.

The Regional Action Plan sets out 31 common and 23 individual (national) actions that OSPAR Contracting Parties should take to prevent and reduce marine litter which address the relevant sea- and land-based sources as well as education and outreach.

This session will focus on two elements: the current state and trends in marine litter in the North East Atlantic based on recent OSPAR assessments and what further work is needed on monitoring; and the implementation of the OSPAR Regional Action Plan, what has been achieved so far and what more needs to be done to prevent further inputs and reduce levels of marine litter.

Monitoring is key not only of assessing quantities,trends and impacts of marine litter but also in identifying top items that should be addressed by dedicated measures. In 2017 OSPAR assessed three indicators on beach litter, seabed litter and plastic particles in fulmars’ stomachs. However gaps in the monitoring programme remain and further indicators are being developed on microplastics and plastic particles in biota. The session will present these assessments and discuss how monitoring can be further improved.

The Regional Action Plan covers key marine litter issues such as port reception facilities, waste from the fishing industry, fines for littering at sea, fishing for litter, ALDFG, floating litter hotspots, improved waste management, sewage stormwater runoff, reduction of single use items, reduction of microplastics use and emissions and redesign of harmful products. Many actions are underway to tackle these issues, however further work is needed to fully implement the actions. The session will discuss the challenges and way forward for implementing regional action plans, including possibilities for cooperation and how they link to other regional and international legislation and other processes.




Amounts, trends and types of marine Lltter in the North East Atlantic

presenting: Jennifer Godwin (OSPAR Commission, United Kingdom); authors: Jennifer Godwin (OSPAR Commission), John Mouat (OSPAR Commission)

For the first time the amounts, types and trends of marine litter in the North East Atlantic have been assessed at the regional scale. Three marine litter indicators on beach litter, seabed litter and plastic particles in fulmars stomachs were assessed as part of OSPAR’s Intermediate Assessment 2017 giving a comprehensive assessment.

Beach litter data from 76 beaches was assessed to describe its abundance and composition. Trends in particular items were assessed on 19 beaches with longer datasets covering the period 2009–2014. Seabed litter was assessed for the first time, using monitoring based on fisheries survey trawls, providing a first picture of the distribution of litter on the seabed within North Sea, Celtic seas and Bay of Biscay. The distribution of floating litter and the potential impact on wildlife in the North Sea was also considered through the indicator on plastic particles in fulmars stomachs. Litter levels were assessed against OSPAR’s long-term goal of less than 10% of fulmars exceeding a level of 0.1 g of plastic in their stomachs.

These three assessments also provide a key input to OSPAR’s Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter allowing the assessment of the effectiveness of measures to reduce marine litter and to identify any new items of concern.


Can we fix it? Yes we can!

presenting: Sue Kinsey (Marine Conservation Society, United Kingdom); authors: Sue Kinsey (Marine Conservation Society, United Kingdom)

The OSPAR countries have been collecting marine litter data since 2001 with responsibility for the data and data collection initially being passed from one country to another. In 2012 the Marine Conservation Society, a UK NGO took over hosting and design of the OSPAR marine litter data portal for the OSPAR countries to supply a consistent, reliable and user friendly system for data entry of both beach information and litter survey data. We look at how this transfer came about, how the database functions, problems encountered along the way and the methodology behind it. We also look at the history of marine litter data collection in the OSPAR region and its extensive and effective use of volunteers to collect such data. The portal and the data it holds has increased in importance since the inception of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and currently 12 countries use it to enter marine litter data for their litter monitoring programmes. We also look at the uses the data has been put to, in particular how it meshes with extra data collected by the Marine Conservation Society for the UK.


OSPAR Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter – State of affairs and outlook

presenting: Stefanie Werner (German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), Germany); authors: Stefanie Werner (German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), Germany), John Mouat (OSPAR Commission)

The OSPAR Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter (RAP ML) is designed as an instrument for efficient horizontal multi stakeholder involvement. By considering the top marine litter items found in the OSPAR marine region and their implications for the marine environment, as the ultimate sink, the plans adds weight to existing sectoral approaches of other regimes and legal frameworks. The RAP ML outlines a comprehensive set of actions targeting the major sea-based and land-based sources. Prevention measures including education and outreach are key to the plan, removal actions for the different marine and river compartments have also been formulated such as passive Fishing-For-Litter schemes, which are meanwhile widely applied in the OSPAR region.

The defined actions often need to be addressed to third parties. The current voluntary phase out of the use of microbeads in personal care products is inter alia based on close OSPAR dialogues with the cosmetics industry. Other examples for cooperation include the ongoing dialogue with Riverine Commissions to prevent litter inputs and joined work with plastics producers and the waste management sector to identify gaps leading to waste turning into marine litter as well as with the shipping sector to assist in improving Port Reception Facilities.

Delays are also apparent in the implementation of the plan often caused by lack of sufficient resources and funding to support the individual actions. The presentation intends to introduce into the OSPAR RAP ML, give an overview of the current state of play and an outlook on the further implementation process.


Options addressed within OSPAR to reduce leakages of pre-production pellets in the environment

presenting: Sarah Sananes (Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire, France); authors: Sarah Sananes (Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire, France), Stefanie Werner (German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt)), John Mouat (OSPAR Secretariat), Laure Dallem (Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire)

Pre-production pellets are small plastic particles/granulates (diameter<10mm) used in the manufacturing of ordinary plastic products. They regularly leak out during production processes, of transportation trucks and of containers lost at sea, to end up directly or via sewage treatment plants in the marine and freshwater environments in varying concentrations, causing environmental as well as socio-economic damage.

OSPAR, through its Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter, identified a need to study this source of primary microplastics and analyse its pathways into the marine environment in order to take concrete measures to reduce these leaks.This includes the necessity to setup a dialogue with representatives of the entire plastic industry supply-chain (producers, transporters, convertors) and the various NGOs following up the surveillance of pellets losses in the environment.

This presentation will focus on the work conducted within OSPAR and addressed the main options to act which are under consideration. Several options can be taken into account like technical improvements, voluntary agreements by the plastics industry or more or less binding regulations.

This overview aims to define some key recommendations that could be implemented not only within OSPAR but also in the European Union as part of the upcoming EU Plastics Strategy.


Fishing for Litter – Cleaner seas, safer fishing

presenting: Ryan Metcalfe (KIMO Denmark, United Kingdom); authors: KIMO International (KIMO International, United Kingdom)

Fishing for Litter is an imaginative yet simple initiative that aims to reduce marine litter by involving one of the key stakeholders – the fishing industry. The project is designed to reduce the amount of litter in our seas by physically removing it, and to highlight the importance of good waste management amongst the fleet. Participating vessels are given hardwearing bags to collect marine litter that is caught in their nets during their normal fishing activities. Filled bags are deposited on the quayside and disposed of by harbour staff. Since 2011 over 500 vessels have removed more than 2,500 tonnes of waste from the north-east Atlantic.


Marine litter in the Netherlands, Green Deals and crossing OSPAR borders

presenting: Lex Oosterbaan (Rijkswaterstaat, Netherlands); authors: Lex Oosterbaan (Rijkswaterstaat, Netherlands), Mareike Erfeling (Rijkswaterstaat), Willem van Loon (Rijkswaterstaat), Hermien Busschbach (Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment)

Within OSPAR countries work successfully together with NGOs and the private sector to develop a better knowledge base for marine litter and to implement effective measures. The Dutch approach to marine litter has always been an international one. Although the main driving force to tackle marine litter has been the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the OSPAR Regional Sea Convention has played a pivotal role in this by developing regional (common) marine litter indicators and assessment tools and by adopting the Regional Action Plan on Marine litter. Cross border cooperation is crucial in combating marine litter. How does this work? In what way does OSPAR’s work help the Dutch government in achieving their ambitions to reduce marine litter?

This presentation will present the relation between the national and the OSPAR work, the successes and challenges. Starting point has been the same: litter items most commonly found on beaches and identifying their most likely sources. The next step, developing measures together with stakeholders to substantially reduce the amounts, turns out to be easier at a national than at a regional level. In the Netherlands, Green Deal agreements with sectors like fisheries, shipping and beach tourism have been adopted to exchange best practices and develop pilot measures. These national experiences are fed into the implementation of OSPAR’s collective actions in the RAP ML in order to increase the scale and effectiveness of the measures. The experiences with this approach and how progress is assessed.