Marine Litter

A continuously increasing number of studies scattered all around the globe are contributing to our knowledge on the amount and composition of litter in the world’s oceans as well as its impacts on the marine environment, aquatic life and humankind. However, synthesis studies are needed in order to provide policy makers, public authorities, media and the general public high-quality information needed to address urgent questions and to develop efficient mitigation measures. Using information from over 2,600 peer-reviewed publication, our maps provide an overview on litter distribution and its ecological impact in the world oceans.

Interactive Map

What are our maps revealing about oceans’ health?

Our maps show that virtually all of the world’s oceans contain litter in varying abundance. However, large stretches of ocean are yet uncharted with respect to the distribution of marine litter. Still relatively unexplored are the deep ocean floor, the Polar Regions. The pollution is crippling and depleting more than 3,500 species through entanglement and ingestion. On a global scale, non-degradable plastic accounts for about 75% of litter in any aquatic habitat. Joint international management action is urgently needed to enable countries to stop their excessive use and dumping of plastics.

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Last updated at: 31.03.2021