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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Seabed Litter

The Map of the Week illustrates the issue of seabed litter and shows the percentage of litter divided in eleven categories including plastic, glass, textile and metal.


It has been a busy week! On 1 June, the virtual High-Level Launch of the Ocean Decade hosted by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) celebrated the beginning of the Ocean Decade. Seven outcomes describe the ocean we want at the end of the Ocean Decade: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, a productive ocean, an accessible ocean and an inspiring and engaging ocean. [1] This conference was followed by the Virtual Early Career Ocean Professional Day hosted by and for early career ocean professionals from around the world and from a variety of ocean disciplines. The All-Atlantic2021 Ministerial High-Level & Stakeholders Conference took place on 2 to 4 June. The European Union Green Week 2021 on the theme of ‘Zero pollution for healthier people and planet’ took place from 1 to 4 June. And more is to come including the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on 4 and 5 June, World Environment Day on 5 June and World Ocean Day on 8 June!

A clean, healthy and resilient ocean is a common thread to these events. Addressing the issue of pollution including marine litter and contaminants is key to sustainable development. Increasing levels of debris in the world’s oceans are having a major environmental and economic impact. Every year, an estimated 5 to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic enters the ocean, costing roughly $13 billion per year – including clean-up costs and financial losses in fisheries and other industries. [2] Marine litter is found on coasts, on the water surface, in the water column, on the seabed, even in the deep seas where it causes harm to entire marine ecosystems. [3]

Marine Litter is one of the eleven descriptors of Good Environmental Status monitored in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). European Union policy related to Single Use Plastic and the Zero Pollution Action Plan aim to tackle pollution.

Explore the Map of the Week to get a better understanding of seabed litter.

Wish to learn more about the European Atlas of the Seas, how you can use it to research information and data about the ocean, seas and coasts, how maps are developed and how they can be used in education? Join us for the online Ocean Literacy workshop on 16 June 2021!

Access the map

The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.