Action: Remove litter from the marine environment
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects of removing litter from the marine environment on subtidal benthic invertebrate populations.
‘We found no studies’ means that we have not yet found any studies that have directly evaluated this intervention during our systematic journal and report searches. Therefore, we have no evidence to indicate whether or not the intervention has any desirable or harmful effects.
Litter can enter the marine environment through a multitude of pathways, for instance vessels, rivers, storms, beaches, fishing activities. Once in the marine environment, litter can accumulate and subsist for a long time due to very slow degradation (Andrady 2015; Pham et al. 2014). Litter can negatively affect subtidal benthic invertebrates through physical damage, smothering and habitat modification, but also through the introduction of bacteria, nutrients, toxic substances and other solid particles (Gall & Thompson 2015).
Removing litter from the marine environment may temporarily remove the cause of harm and allow subtidal benthic invertebrates to recover. However, this intervention is only deals with the physical pollution, but not with its source and cause, and therefore can only be considered temporary.
Evidence of interventions related to the source of litter and solid pollution are summarised under “Threat: Pollution – Limit, cease or prohibit discharge of solid waste overboard from vessels” and “Install stormwater traps or grids”. Evidence for other interventions related to the removal of solid litter from the marine environment are summarised under “Threat: Pollution – Recover lost fishing gear” and “Remove and clean-up shoreline waste disposal sites”.
Andrady A.L. (2015) Persistence of plastic litter in the oceans. Pages 57–72 in: Marine anthropogenic litter. Springer, Cham.
Gall S.C. & Thompson R.C. (2015) The impact of debris on marine life. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 92, 170–179.
Pham C.K., Ramirez-Llodra E., Alt C.H., Amaro T., Bergmann M., Canals M., Davies J., Duineveld G., Galgani F., Howell K.L. & Huvenne V.A. (2014) Marine litter distribution and density in European seas, from the shelves to deep basins. PloS One, 9, p.e95839.