Marine litter is recognized as one of the major threats to marine ecosystems worldwide and indeed in the Mediterranean Sea, due to its nature of a semi-enclosed sea with pressures coming from tourism, urban concentration in coastal areas, the development of intensive agriculture, overfishing and intense maritime transport. It is one of the descriptors indicated in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), aimed at achieving and maintaining the good environmental status of European seas by 2020 (Descriptor 10). The MSFD Task Group 10 on Marine Litter describes in its 2010 report how the entanglement of marine species in marine litter, often as a result of their normal behaviour patterns, has been frequently described as a serious mortality factor.
Legambiente consider the marine litter one of the major threats to marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea and is engaged in different activities aiming at reduce marine litter in the environment.
Since 2013, Legambiente monitors in the Italian Sea the floating marine (macro) litter with its Green Schooner campaign. A scientific protocol by ISPRA (Italian Institute of Environment Protection and Research) and University of Pisa is used for monitoring. In 2015, Legambiente issued an agreement with ISPRA in order to monitor micro litter in six minor Italian islands and in Po River and Tiber river mouths. It was the first preliminary study about the presence of microplastics around Italian archipelago. Data showed the presence of microparticles in each sampling area.
Various are, instead the mitigation and awareness activities:
Towards plastic producers: with advocacy actions on bioplastics, circular economy and packaging reduction and raising awareness of marine litter issue,
Towards fishermen and their organisations: 12% of wastes in the sea come from fishing activities: we involve fishing sector with specific communication actions and campaigns, involving them directly in many marine biodiversity conservation projects or in changes in their equipment (nets or boxes),
Towards citizens: wide awareness campaign fighting waste abandonment, promoting recovering wastes and circular economy, cleaning up beaches and sea,
Trying to change rules and laws: in Italy, wastes picked up from marine environment are special wastes and it is a problem for bringing litter to the land. We are working in order to have waste collection areas in ports and harbours. Only experimental project are implemented or only for some kind of wastes.