Collect litter at the beach and become a scientist for the day with the Marine Litter Watch app!
Litter, plastics in particular, is accumulating in our seas and coasts mainly due to current unsustainable consumption and production patterns, poor waste management and the lack of public awareness. Marine litter is an increasing threat to the marine environment, to human health and our well-being. It has cross border impacts on wildlife and habitats. Without tackling marine litter, Europe cannot have healthy seas.
To address this problem, the European Union has issued the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which requires Member States to monitor the state of the seas and take the measures needed to reach or maintain its ‘good environmental status’ by 2020. However, legislation alone cannot solve this problem. We all contribute to and are affected by marine litter. It is therefore crucial to engage citizens to better understand, prevent and reduce it. However, EU Member States need more data to properly assess the extent of the problem and in this respect, citizens can play a major role in collecting data and information needed by using the Marine LitterWatch (MLW) developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) which combines citizen engagement with modern technology to tackle the problem of marine litter.
MLW builds on the MSFD monitoring guidelines developed by the Technical Group on Marine Litter, a group of experts established to support the MSFD implementation. MLW depends on three key elements: organised citizen groups (the 'communities'), a mobile application and a database. Items found on the beach can be reported through surveys made with MLW app. With time, the data collected by the public should improve the understanding of marine litter distribution and composition, and thus help tackle marine litter better.
MLW has been developed by the EEA in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society, the Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia, the North Sea Foundation and the PERSEUS FP7 research project.
MLW is available for Android devices and iPhone. It can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and App Store. MLW is free of charge.
You may also use #EEAMLW to follow Marine LitterWatch activities on social media.