The four partners of the project ACT4LITTER met for the second time at Sant Pau on the 13th and 14th of February to review the first year of this 18-month EU project aiming to tackle marine litter in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas through effective and targeted measures towards conservation targets.
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the water basins most affected by marine litter, worldwide. Marine litter represents a pervasive and persistent problem that knows no boundaries. It has a negative impact on vital economic sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture, navigation, energy and tourism, while it may also endanger human health and safety, threaten the survival of species and habitats, as a result of entanglement, ingestion, bio-accumulation or bio-magnification of toxics released from litter items, the facilitation of introduction of invasive species, or damages to seabed habitats, among others.
This phenomenon has been acknowledged as a major threat in many Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), hampering the achievement of conservation goals. Moreover, many MPA Managers lack the tools and knowledge to effectively address the issue and prevent the problem from getting worse. With EU funding under the Interreg Mediterranean programme, ACT4LITTER emerged in February 2017 to turn this situation around. The initiative brings together twenty-two associated partners, essentially MPAs managers, under the leadership of four implemented partner centres ARC-SCP/RAC from its office at Sant Pau, MIO-ESCE in Greece, SSSUP in Italy, and MedPAN in France.
Aiming to set up a decision-making model to identify potential measures to address marine litter in Mediterranean MPAs, ACT4LITTER partners have been working intensely over the last year to define MPA-specific action plans for marine litter prevention and mitigation and elaborate a joint governance scheme for the improvement of marine litter management. The meeting at Sant Pau gave the partners an opportunity to share their experience with the project and gauge progress over the past 12 months. The following achievements were highlighted:
• A full inventory of Marine Litter measures adapted to the Marine Protected Areas was carried out in the Mediterranean region.
• Nine MPAs in the region are engaged for the development of a MPA-specific marine litter action plans prepared within the framework of ACT4LITTER.
• A beach litter survey was carried out in 50 different sites within Mediterranean MPAs.
• Much progress has been made in the design of a decision-making tool to help MPA managers identify the measures that will tackle marine litter most effectively in their areas.
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