Developing Mediterranean-specific protocols to protect biodiversity from litter impact at basin and local MPAs scale

Project presentation

The Mediterranean sea is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots but is also one of the most polluted seas worldwide. Over 260 species have so far been reported to ingest or become entangled in debris such as plastic, monofilament line, rubber and aluminium foil. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive considers marine litter as one of the most concerning causes of pollution of the sea and states that the Good Environmental State is reached when “properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment”. Similar consideration has been done by the Mediterranean Countries that adopted the Barcelona Convention. Although many Mediterranean organisations are working on this issue, there is not any widely-accepted protocols to assess pollution by marine litter. For this reasons, the project aims at improving protection measures in order to maintain the biodiversity of natural coastal and marine ecosystems, thanks to a better cooperation and networking between Mediterranean Protected Areas in monitoring and managing the marine litter issue. The project proposes a transnational solution at Mediterranean level for monitoring marine litter pressure, thanks to a better cooperation, results-oriented and based on scientific information.


  • Lead partner

    Cinque Terre National Park and Marine Protected Area (Italy)

  • 9 Partners

  • 1 Associated partner

  • 4 Countries

Key messages

For managers

  • Better cooperation and networking among Mediterranean Protected Areas ensures more integrated and shared monitoring measures, and provides for more effective solutions to the impact of marine litter on biodiversity;
  • The common methodology shared and promoted by the MedSeaLitter project was adopted by MSFD in Italy and France to support the creation of a common guidance on monitoring marine litter at European level.

For policy

  • International policies, such as The Barcelona Convention (and others), underline the need to control marine pollution in order to dramatically reduce the risk to Mediterranean biodiversity;

  • There is an ongoing need for transnational solutions, at Mediterranean level, for monitoring marine litter threats;

  • Monitoring protocols have been adopted and implemented by at least 20 Mediterranean MPAs and 10 research institutes, and have been acknowledged by policy institutions acting in synergy with researchers and with local/regional/national/EU policy makers, as within the requirements of the MSFD.

For science

  • According to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, marine litter is one of the most serious pollution sources for the sea, affecting a number of marine species;

  • Monitoring is fundamental to address the issue of marine pollution: standardized monitoring protocols that provide valuable data sets, and that are essential to meeting current legal requirements, have been developed, tested and implemented;

  • A common monitoring protocol for marine litter was created through the cooperation and sharing of scientific information acquired by different partners, and through a result-oriented approach.

Library resources


Developing Mediterranean-specific protocols to protect biodiversity from litter impact at basin and local MPAs scales

Delivering efficient, easy to apply and cost-effective protocols to monitor and manage litter impact on biodiversity.
Size: 4.44 MB

Settings methodologies for monitoring floating marine macro litter: the MEDSEALITTER effort

Settings methodologies for monitoring floating marine macro litter: the MEDSEALITTER effort.
Size: 6.99 MB

Existing monitoring practices report

State of the art on existing monitoring methods of floating macro-litterand ingestion in biota.
Size: 1.78 MB

Tackling Marine Litter in the Mediterranean: Knowledge & Tools. Policy Report.

This report aims to synthesise and showcase the contribution of the Biodiversity Protection Community projects and other Interreg MED projects on the development and/or refinement of marine litter assessment and management tools, giving special emphasis to the tools that can be applied in Mediterranean MPAs. Moreover, it identifies current gaps in knowledge and management, advancing recommendations for further action for both EU and Mediterranean policymakers, governance mechanisms and funding instruments.
Size: 2.37 MB