Monitoring programme: LitterProgramme topic: Litter
Hazardous substancesBiodiversityMaritime activities
Concentrations of hazardous substances close to natural levelsNatural landscapes and seascapesThriving and balanced commnities of plants and animalsNo illegal pollutionSafe maritime traffic without accidental pollution
10DC1 The composition, amount and spatial distribution of litter on the coastline, in the surface layer of the water column, and on the seabed, are at levels that do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment.Member States shall establish threshold values for these levels through cooperation at Union level, taking into account regional or subregional specificities.
Other features:A description of any other features or characteristics typical of or specific to the marine region or subregion.
Bathing Water DirectiveOSPAR ConventionMSFD D10C1
Figure 1 - Map containing beach litter monitoring stations by type of beaches.
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.
In order to assess the pre-core indicator ‘Beach litter’ (STATE & CONSERVATION 5-2016, document 4J-27), three sampling campaigns during the year have to be organised; preferably during the same survey periods used in other international established monitoring programmes. If it is possible, according to national climatological conditions, a forth campaign is to be conducted during winter time. Information from this forth campaign, when available, will be included separately in the assessment (i.e. different colours on map representations).
Beach litter is to be monitored by all HELCOM Contracting Parties, covering all coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. The number of beaches to monitor per country is to be determined nationally, aiming to ensure a representative coverage of their respective coastal area as well as, if feasible, an equally well representation of all beach categories. Beaches are to be classified as "urban", "rural" and "peri-urban". Choosing a mix of urban, rural and peri-urban beaches will provide knowledge on different types of sources of litter. Litter on rural beaches is more likely to indicate sea based sources and the litter situation at sea (background values for litter pollution level) - since very little littering is expected from visitors. Urban and peri-urban beaches would more reflect the contribution of land based activities on and nearby the beach. Criteria to follow to select beaches to sample as well as definitions of types of beaches are specified in the HELCOM guidelines for monitoring beach litter (section 2.4.2).
Data from national monitoring should be analysed aiming at identifying the number of litter items per type of material and most frequent litter items (top beach litter ítems) standardized to a 100m stretch of beach.
Types of material to consider are: “artificial polymer materials”, “rubber”, “cloth/textile”, “paper/cardboard”, “processed/worked wood”, “metal”, “glass/ceramics” and “undefined”.
Top beach litter items are to be determined for the different types of beaches (urban, peri-urban and rural beaches) following the rank method. Top 10-20 item lists of marine litter items occurring on beaches should preferably be derived so data from each survey are weighted equally within one station and also weighted equally between stations instead of only making top 10 lists of total sum of all litter items. Thereby will the weight of surveys/seasons and stations which most litter items registered be reduced.
The HELCOM EN-Marine Litter considered the assessment unit to be used for the assessment of the beach litter indicator, and considered the appropriateness of using Scale 2 or Scale 3 of the HELCOM sub-divisions of the Baltic Sea for regional monitoring and assessment purposes (see attachment 4 of the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy). The Scale 3 may be used even if the indicator is not applicable to off-shore areas due to lack of data as the monitoring is based on beach sampling. The data is primarily representative of beaches located in a certain Scale 2 or scale 3 sub-division. The experts of HELCOM EN-Marine Litter agreed to postpone the decision on the scale of the assessment pending on further discussion to take place as part of the finalisation of the pre-core indicator report.
Given the variability of litter data, which is influenced greatly by season, weather conditions and water currents, a 6-year running mean in line with the requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008) is considered appropriate to provide a baseline predict for trends in terms of an average level of pollution. Once the baseline is set, operational targets for the reduction of relevant (top) findings on beaches need to be defined in order to be judged against the baseline. As a midterm target, a downward trend in input of plastics should be achieved.
The monitoring of beach litter started for most HELCOM countries in 2012, and has continued regularly since then. However, monitoring is not nationally coordinated in one country and is only seasonally conducted in another one. Furthermore, in one country monitoring is based on scientific projects data only and not yet conducted continuously. The network of monitoring stations has expanded since 2015, which together with the suggested coordinated monitoring program will provide a more complete and coherent image of the extent of beach litter items found in the different sub-regions. The monitoring program will also allow for a reliable input of monitoring data resulting in scientific conclusions based on a solid knowledgebase and as a consequence, the assessment of the pressure will be done with more certainty.
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.
Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)Expert opinion.
HELCOM (2018) HELCOM Guidelines for monitoring beach litter.
HELCOM (2016) HELCOM Pre-core indicator on ‘Beach litter’, document 4J-27 to STATE & CONSERVATION 5-2016
HELCOM (2018) SPICE report: Task 2.1.3 Development of baselines of marine litter – Report on the analysis of compiled data on microlitter in the Baltic Sea
HELCOM (2018) State of the Baltic Sea – Second HELCOM holistic assessment 2011-2016. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings 155
HELCOM (2018) SPICE report: Task 2.1.1 Development of baselines of marine litter – Identification of top litter items in the Baltic Sea region
Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848 of 17 May 2017 laying down criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment, and repealing Decision 2010/477/EU
Addamo, A. M., Laroche, P.,Hanke, G. (2017): Top Marine Beach Litter Items in Europe. - EUR 29249 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg