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A global assessment of the relationship between anthropogenic debris on land and the seafloor


Roman, L and Hardesty, BD and Leonard, GH and Pragnell-Raasch, H and Mallos, N and Campbell, I and Wilcox, C, A global assessment of the relationship between anthropogenic debris on land and the seafloor, Environmental Pollution, 264 Article 114663. ISSN 0269-7491 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114663


Pollution of coastal and marine environments by mismanaged anthropogenic debris is a global threat requiring complex, multilateral solutions and mitigation strategies. International efforts to catalogue and quantify the density, extent and nature of mismanaged waste have not yet assessed the heterogeneity of debris between nearby areas. Better understanding of how debris types and density can be used as a proxy between regions and between land and seafloor habitats at a global scale can aid in developing cost effective and representative debris monitoring systems. Using volunteer collected clean-up and survey data, we compared the proportion and density of both total debris and specific items across 19,428 coastal land and seafloor sites from International Coastal Cleanups and Dive Against Debris surveys, from 86 countries between 2011 and 2018. We show that although some items common on land are also common on the seafloor, there is an overall global mismatch between debris types and densities on land and the seafloor from nearby areas. Correlations in land/seafloor debris type/density occurred primarily for items which entangle and/or sink, including fishing line, plastic bags, glass and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Minimal similarity between land and seafloor surveys occurs for items which float or degrade. We suggest that to accurately evaluate local debris density, land and seafloor surveys are required to gain a holistic understanding. When detailed information on debris type, relative concentration, and likely source and transport are assessed, more cost effective and efficient policy interventions can be designed and implemented from local through to global scales.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:citizen science, management, marine debris, plastic pollution, policy, volunteer
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Pollution and contamination
Research Field:Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Roman, L (Dr Lauren Roman)
ID Code:146478
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-09-08
Last Modified:2021-11-16

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