Barcelona hosts European researchers on marine litter impacts

On 23rd and 24th January, the Catalan Waste Agency (ACR) hosts the CleanSea project meeting, an interdisciplinary project from the EU 7th Framework Programme which counts with EUCC Mediterranean Centre as partner in Barcelona.

The Project, led by Dr. Heather Leslie from University VU Amsterdam, holds its annual meeting to discuss progress on marine litter impacts research, particularly concerning plastics on marine organisms. Furthermore, European societal and economic drivers to marine litter generation are being addressed. The project aims to provide instruments and tools to keep European seas clean, healthy and productive.  It is improving the knowledge and understanding of marine litter composition, distribution and impact in order to identify strategies and right mix of measures to abate this problem.

This meeting comes in a crucial moment because of recent approval of the Regional Plan for the Management and Prevention of Marine Litter in the Mediterranean by the Barcelona Convention. Furthermore, the Catalan Waste Agency holds the ACR+ presidency, the European Network of local and regional stakeholders for integrated resources and waste management, which is being extended throughout the Mediterranean region. The ACR will present some best practices such as the pilot project on packaging deposit-return system in Cadaqués and the agreement to reduce the use of plastic bags in Catalonia. Furthermore, the UNEP/MAP Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), hosted by the ACR, will present the main objectives and measures gathered at the Mediterranean Regional Plan on Marine Litter.

The EU is addressing this problem that affects all European seas and which consequences that are still not fully understood. For this reason, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive includes marine litter as an element to be corrected to achieve healthy and productive seas. Recently, Barcelona has been a pilot study area to identify main marine litter sources. In the metropolitan area there is a notable concern about marine litter generation due to sewage overflows at rain episodes. CleanSea project aims not only to elaborate corrective and removal measures but also those addressing responsible production, consumption and behaviour to avoid litter in the marine environment.

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