Following the Rio+20 conference the EU is part of an international commitment to reduce marine litter significantly by 2025. A main contribution to this commitment is the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The MSFD came into force in 2008 and is currently being implemented by EU Member States. It determines that EU member States will implement measures to achieve or maintain good environmental status of the marine environment by 2020. Marine litter is identified as one of the main threats to reaching this objective.
At present, there is insufficient data to assess the problem of marine litter properly. Moreover, in view of the overall monitoring requirements for MSFD purposes, Member States will need to develop innovative and cost-efficient monitoring methods and tools.
To address this issue, the EEA is offering the citizen science based Marine LitterWatch (MLW). MLW aims to help fill data gaps on beach litter relevant for MSFD purposes at the same time as it explores the benefits of involving citizens in the collection and monitoring of marine litter.