Marine Litter Watch: Citizens in action to track marine litter


The European Environment Agency and over 20 NGOs (such as Surfrider Foundation Europe) and research institutes have joined forces to launch the first ever Marine Litter Watch Month, expected to take place at more than 75 of Europe's most beautiful beaches from 17 September to 17 October 2016. Our goal is to share our monitoring experience with European citizens by inviting them to join us on the beach for a month. This pilot initiative aims to develop a European network of volunteers willing to be involved in the monitoring of their beach.

Marine litter, worst nightmare of the Ocean

On 23 and 24 February 2016, about 30 representatives of some of Europe's most active and experienced marine litter prevention organisations came together in Copenhagen for the 2nd annual Marine Litter Watch (MLW) Workshop. In addition to exchanging their-long standing experiences on marine litter monitoring, they kicked-off a new initiative - a Marine Litter Watch Month. This experimental initiative aspires to develop into a pan-European citizen-science based monitoring framework which will provide reliable, accurate and comparable marine litter data for years to come.

All participant organisations recognise that lack of data is hampering an effective implementation of essential measures to address the growing threat of marine litter. The Marine Litter Watch aims to fill these ‘data gaps' by providing Europe's decision makers with the information they need in order to work towards litter-free coasts and seas.

Beach monitoring, a global stake

The one-month pilot beach surveys will deploy a harmonised monitoring approach, following the “Guidance Document on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas” developed in 2013 by the Technical Group on Marine Litter of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, an European Union legislation that aims to protect Europe´s seas and ensure its sustainable use. The data collected will feed directly into the European Environment Agency (EEA) database underlining the need for urgent action and will strengthen policy implementation at local, national, European and Regional Seas Conventions levels in meeting targets and commitments set in tackling marine litter.

The Marine Litter Watch Month will be carried out in close collaboration with the EEA and the European Topic Center on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters (ETC-ICM). The Marine Litter Watch community includes: Coalition Clean Baltic, Estonian Green Movement, HELMEPA, Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Keep Sweden Tidy, KIMO, Legambiente, Marine Conservation Society, MARNOBA, MIO-ECSDE, National Institute for Marine Research and Development of Romania, Plastic Change, Polish Ecological Club, Portuguese Association of Marine Litter, Seas at Risk, Surfers Against Sewage, Surfrider Foundation Europe.

United against marine waste

Thanks to its expertise on the topic of marine litter (scientific projects, Ocean Initiatives, education, lobby work...), Surfrider Foundation Europe is positioned as a key player in the implementation of this protocol. A standardized and harmonized monitoring approach allows us to complete our assessment of the pressure played by aquatic waste, identify causal areas on the coast and to estimate the development of the pollution.

Surfrider Foundation Europe invites you to participate in its monitoring activities on three different beaches, namely Porsmilin (Finistère) on October 14th at 2pm, Anglet (Basque Country) on October 17th at 11:30am at the beach called "La Barre" and Mutriku (Spain, Guipúzcoa).

If you also feel involved in the fight against aquatic waste and want to take part in its eradication, you can simply join a community nearby. If that is not possible you can download the application and get involved in the monitoring, over the long term, of your beach by contacting us. Your contribution will have both European and global impact because the results of collected data will further the legislation and the implementation of measures to address the causes and consequences of this constant threat.

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The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


Surfrider seeks a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.