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Desktop Study on Marine Litter in the Arctic

A review of the state of knowledge about marine litter including microplastics and their impacts

Published 17.02.21

In 2019, the Arctic Council’s working group Protection of Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)  published the “Desktop Study on Marine Litter Including Microplastics in the Arctic[1]PAME, Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic (May 2019), responding to the need to better understand the state of knowledge of marine litter in the region.

The study explains that marine litter is found in all Arctic marine environments from beaches to the deep sea floor. The litter results from human activities both on land and at sea, and there is evidence that it can be transported into the Arctic by surface ocean currents from distant sources. Some analyses have pointed to the fishing industry as a significant source of marine litter in Arctic waters. The study concludes that more research and information is needed on how marine litter reaches the Arctic as well as impacts of the pollution on the Arctic marine environment, including animals that ingest the litter. For the way forward, the study recommends developing a Regional Action Plan (RAP) for reducing marine pollution in the Arctic as well as a marine litter monitoring program.

Photo credit: Bo Eide (CC BY-NC 2.0)