Monitoring programme: Litter
Programme topic: Litter

Sub-programme: Microlitter particle abundance and characteristics


​table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts table

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access


Regional Coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: not coordinated.

Currently monitoring is carried out at national level.

Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP)​ ​ ​ ​Segments Hazardous substances
Maritime activities
​Ecological objectives

​​Concentrations of hazardous substances close to natural levels

Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ ​Descriptors D10 Litter
​Criteria (Q5a)

10.1 Characteristics of litter in the marine and coastal environment
10.2 Impacts of litter on marine life

​Features (Q5c)

Other features:
A description of any other features or characteristics typical of or specific to the marine region or subregion.

Other relevant legislation (Q8a)
Currently no relevant legislation

Assessment of: (Q4k)
State/Impacts ​​X trends, state classification
Human activities
causing the pressures
Effectiveness of measures

Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit Level 1: Baltic Sea
​HELCOM assessment unit Level 2: Subbasin
HELCOM assessment unit Level 3: Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​
HELCOM assessment unit Level 4: Subbasins with coastal WFD division
​Other: National

Monitoring concepts table

Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9c, Q9d
Q9e, 9f
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Spatial scope
Monitoring started
CPs monitoring
National Microlitter in water surface
Quantity and type of microparticles
Manta trawl
National Yearly
​​25 stations -

10.1.3 Trends in the amount, distribution and, where possible, composition of micro-particles (in particular micro-plastics...

EEZ 2014
National Microlitter in water and in sediments
Quantity and type of microparticles
Plankton nets and Nemisto corer/Van Veen grab
National Yearly ​​6 stations -
EEZ 2015
National Microlitter in sand
Quantity and type of microparticles Sieving
National Seasonal
EEZ 2014

Brief description of monitoring

Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries but will be added.

​Element / parameter
Microlitter on water surface
​Method Microlitter on water surface/Quantity and type of microparticles: Manta trawl survey
QA/QC National
Frequency Yearly
Spatial Scope EEZ
EE: pilot study started in 2014, continued in 2015; four areas in the GoF.
Spatial resolution 25 stations

​Element / parameter
Microlitter in water and in sediments

​Method Microlitter in water will be monitored by sampling in the water column with plankton nets and bottom sediments sampling with Nemisto corer or van Veen grab.  The amount and the composition (as far as possible) of the microparticles will be analyzed.
QA/QC National
Frequency Yearly
Spatial Scope EEZ
Spatial resolution 6 stations

​Element / parameter
Microlitter in sand
​Method Sieving 5 cm of surface sand of 50cmx50cm quadrat with 2 mm sieve
QA/QC National
Frequency Seasonally
Spatial Scope EEZ
Spatial resolution -


Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.

The study of the presence of microparticles in different compartments is being subject of study under several national and regional projects in the HELCOM area. The assessment of monitoring requirements is considered from two perspectives:
1. close to the hot spots (i.a. wastewater treatment facilities)
2. in the open sea (concentration in zooplankton, mussels and fish).
​Gaps National monitoring is ongoing in several Contracting Parties, although there is no coordinated monitoring programme in force.

Adequacy for assessment of GES (Q5d)

Monitoring should provide adequate data and information  to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES as required by MSFD under Article 9 and 11.

​Adequate data?​
Established methods for assessment?
​Adequate understanding of GES?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments?

Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)

Expert opinion.

Data providers and access

​Data access point
​National databases​
Data type (Q10c)
Processed data sets​
Data availability (Q10c)​
​Data access (Q10c)
​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)

When will data become available? (Q10c)
Data update frequency (Q10c)
Describe how the data and information from the programme will be made accessible to the EC/EEA
​​Contact points in the Contracting parties ​Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added
​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?



Guidance on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas. JRC, 2013