Research and analysis

R064 - The environmental impacts of marine litter

Evidence requirement R064: The environmental impacts of marine litter


R064 - The environmental impacts of marine litter

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


Requirement R064

Improve the understanding of the impacts of all forms of marine litter on the marine environment.

Requirement detail

Litter has become a recognised issue within the marine environment. However there are still many questions regarding the types of litter that occur and their impacts.

Marine litter is consistently highlighted as an issue in marine planning and though there has been work covering the intertidal area, there remains a large gap in knowledge in understanding litter as an issue in the seas beyond the intertidal.

At present, the Marine Management Organisation has very little information on the potential nature, sources and type of impacts of different types of marine litter as it is a relatively new area of research. Though the role of plastic in the seas has been covered in the press, work on this subject is still relatively undeveloped. Any improvements to this evidence base will help to deliver improved sustainable development, through providing more information to help improve marine management. There are drivers for doing this, through OSPAR requirements and to support good environmental status through the UK Marine Strategy.

This requirement will catalogue the different types of marine litter, sources and identify their impacts on the marine environment. It will look at spatial distribution of different types of marine litter and if possible link impacts spatially too. Suggestions for appropriate management responses should also form part of this work.

MMO use

Marine Planning: Improve the consideration of and approach to marine litter in marine plans and contribute to the delivery of marine planning and potentially leading to more specific plan policies.

External interest

Natural England, JNCC, Cefas

Delivery target

2018, Q4

Published 14 March 2017