Marine Litter MPA Action Plans

Pilot areas
Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers
Marine litter
Management plan, marine litter, MPA


The Mediterranean Sea is one of the areas most affected by marine litter worldwide, threatening habitats and species even in pristine coastal and marine environments. MPA managers lack the tools, knowledge, and often the resources to effectively tackle this problem. The purpose of the Marine Litter MPA Action Plans is to support MPA managers in identifying, selecting, and implementing targeted actions to tackle marine litter within the borders of their MPAs, and facilitate their efforts in achieving their conservation goals.


Technological infrastructure

No particular technological infrastructure is needed; only a PC and an internet connection are required to run the decision making tool, an innovative system that helps MPA managers to identify the most effective and feasible marine litter measures for their specific context.


The action plans were developed step-by-step, engaging all stakeholders/actors of the area with the aim to reflect the MPA-specific context and characteristics and define the priority measures for preventing and mitigating marine litter effectively. The action plans can be prepared using a quick guide that has been developed for MPA managers.


It is not easy to estimate the financial resources needed to develop an action plan, as these depend on the specifics of the MPA and the comprehensiveness of the envisaged action plan.



The key objectives of an MPA-specific Marine Litter MPA Action Plan are to:

I. Prevent and reduce marine litter entering the coastal and marine environment of Mediterranean MPAs.

II. Collect and remove marine litter from the coastal and marine environment of Mediterranean MPAs by using sound methods that do not pose any threats to habitats and species, with a specific focus on marine litter hotspots and accumulation areas. Marine Litter MPA Action Plans Management tool ACT4LITTER MPA Miramare (Italy) Strunjan Landscape Park (Slovenia) National Park of Kornati (Croatia) MPA Torre Guaceto (Italy) MPA Torre del Cerrano (Italy) Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park/UNESCO Global geopark (Spain) Ebro Delta Nature Park (Spain) MPA Levante de Mallorca-Cala Ratjada (Spain) Thermaikos Gulf Protected Areas (Greece) Pilot areas Photo by: M.Cebolla, Arxiu PNDE

III. Enhance and deepen our knowledge of the marine litter threat (amounts, composition, sources, pathways and impacts) in Mediterranean MPAs.

The development of the Action Plan should be articulated in 4 phases:

1. Establishment: identification and engagement of stakeholders; establishment of a core team with the mandate to prepare and implement the plan.

2. Analysis and Scenarios: collection of all available information on marine litter, possibly also using the Marine Litter Watch Month (MLWM) tool; initiation of stakeholder engagement; generation of a proposed set of measures for marine litter prevention and mitigation. These measures may be identified via the use of an online decisionmaking tool, which can facilitate the shortlisting of priority measures by matching the MPA-specific content and its marine litter specifics with the features of a comprehensive list of about 100 showcases of best-practice marine litter measures.

3. Setting the Vision: engagement of stakeholders and the wider community in discussing the findings and building consensus on the final set of measures to be included in the plan.

4. Designing the Future: drafting and adoption of the marine litter Action Plan, which should indicatively include: i) the goals and objectives of the plan, ii) a preamble explaining the scope and process followed for its production and approval, iii) the context derived from the analysis, iv) the governance structure, v) the institutional framework for implementation, and vi) the priority marine litter measures agreed upon by the different stakeholders, along with a roadmap for their implementation.

Recommended implementation frequency

A timeframe for implementing each measure included in the Action Plan should be provided.


The challenges that may arise in the implementation of the Action Plan can be related to aspects such as the lack of relevant data, difficulties establishing effective collaborations with local actors, and the lack of financial resources.


Quantitative results

The expected result is to develop a Marine Litter Action Plan, including a set of agreed measures to curb marine litter in the MPA.

Transfer potential

Action plans for marine litter may be developed and adopted by all Mediterranean MPAs, following the example set by the 9 pilot MPAs, and building upon the ACT4LITTER Joint Plan for Action entitled “Top 10 Priority Actions to curb marine litter in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas”. In this way, coordinated approaches and actions can be established on a Mediterranean scale towards tackling marine litter in MPAs, and achieving the conservation objectives set.

Pilot areas

Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park/UNESCO Global geopark (Spain); Capo San Marco Nature Reserve (Italy); Cote Languedocienne Natura 2000 (France); Ebro Delta Nature Park (Spain); Espiguette Natura 2000 (France); Gokova Special Environmental Protection Area (Turkey); Gulf of Lion MPA (France); Karaburun-Sazan MPA (Albania); MPA Levante de Mallorca-Cala Ratjada (Spain); MPA Miramare (Italy); MPA Pelagie Islands (Italy); MPA Punta Campanella (Italy); Marathon and Schinias National Park (Greece); Parnon and Moustos Natura 2000 (Greece); Strunjan Landscape Park (Slovenia); Thermaikos Gulf Protected Areas (Greece).



Pilot MPAs


Showcases of best practice marine litter measures


Joint Plan for Action

  • Possible measures to be included in the Action Plan are: i) setting up adopt-a-beach schemes; ii) establishing passive fishing-for-litter schemes; iii) carrying out clean-up and removal actions; iv) carrying out awareness and educational campaigns; v) promoting bans or levies on single-use items; vi) setting up selected waste reduction measures; vii) improving waste management; viii) promoting extended producer responsibility schemes; ix) and carrying out participatory-science initiatives to collect marine litter data.


  • The decision-making tool is an innovative system that provides essential support to MPA managers who want to address marine litter. The decision-making tool was created in close collaboration with MPA managers and marine litter experts, building upon the ACT4LITTER list of some 100 showcases of best practice marine litter measures. The tool gathers information from users by asking questions, it matches this information with the criteria of the mapped best practice marine litter measures and comes up with a short list of measures that are relevant to the MPA special needs.

For further information

Project contact

  • Ignasi Mateo, SCP/RAC
  • Thomais Vlachogianni, MIO-ECSDE
  • Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies

Links of interest


  • Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation (Croatia)
  • City of Marseille (France)
  • City of San Benedetto del Tronto (Italy)
  • Consortium of Management of Portofino MPA (Italy)
  • French Agency for Marine Protected Areas (France)
  • Management Body of Samaria National Park (Greece)
  • Mediterranean Center for Environmental Monitoring (Montenegro)
  • MerTerre / Observatoire des Déchets en Milieux Aquatiques (France)
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Spain)
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment (Cyprus)
  • Nice Cote D’Azur Metropole (France)
  • PlasticsEurope (Belgium)
  • Public Institute Landscape Park Strunjan (Slovenia)
  • Public Institution National Park Kornati (Croatia)
  • Public Institution Nature Park Lastovo Islands (Croatia)
  • Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife of Albania (Albania)
  • Regional Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Andalusia (Spain)
  • Shoreline (Italy)
  • Spanish Association of Marine Litter (Spain)
  • Thermaikos Gulf Protected Areas Management Authority (Greece)
  • Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona (Spain)