Marine Litter Monitoring
Collecting data & debris with the OSPAR Marine Litter Monitoring Protocol
What is OSPAR?
OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 Governments (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom) and the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.
The name OSPAR comes from a combination of the original Oslo and Paris Conventions ("OS" for Oslo and "PAR" for Paris).
In 2000, OSPAR developed a high resolution, uniform Marine Litter Monitoring protocol for beach litter. These monitoring results are used by policymakers to assist in the implementation policies and measures at regional and national levels. The monitoring can also be used to assess the effectiveness of these reduction strategies.
Why use a European litter monitoring protocol in the Caribbean?
Marine litter knows no boundaries. The currents of the world can deposit litter from many other places onto our coasts.
The OSPAR protocol was developed so that various European countries can collect marine litter data in a scientific, standardized way & communicate it credibly to policymakers. It is entirely applicable in the Caribbean. In fact, collecting data in a harmonized & consistent way allows us to compare & analyze our data more easily.
How does the monitoring protocol work?
We clean a beach & count every item that we find.
It's a high-resolution survey with over 100 different litter items in order to record the compositions of the items (such as plastic, metal, glass, etc.) & pinpoint the activities the litter comes from (such as eating & drinking, fishing, sanitary, medical, etc.).
This allows us to target the problematic items & work on feasible solutions.
The protocol requires fixed survey areas be cleaned at fixed intervals, so we survey each designated 50 meter area every 3 months to determine how much accumulates (flux accumulation rate) & track trends over time.
This allows us to measure the effectiveness of plastic reduction policies.