Authors: C. Ioakeimidis, C. Zeri, H. Kaberi, M. Galatchi, K. Antoniadis, N. Streftaris, F. Galgani, E. Papathanassiou, G. Papatheodorou
In the present work, abundance, spatial distribution and qualitative composition, of benthic marine litter, were investigated in five study areas from the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Seas (Saronikos, Patras and Echinades Gulfs; Limassol Gulf; Constanta Bay). Surveys were performed using the monitoring protocol proposed by the Technical Group for Marine Litter. Densities ranged from 24 items/km2 to 1211 items/km2, with the Saronikos Gulf being the most affected area. Plastics were predominant in all study areas ranging from 45.2% to 95%. Metals and Glass/Ceramics reached maximum values of 21.9% and of 22.4%. The size distribution of litter items showed that ⩾50% fall into medium size categories (10 × 10 cm, 20 × 20 cm) along with an elevated percentage of small-sized (<5 × 5 cm) plastic litter items. The comparative analysis of the data highlighted the dependence of the marine litter problem on many local factors (human sources and oceanographic conditions) and the urgent need for specific actions.