Plastic bags, fishing gear, packaging, synthetics rope… Marine litter has become a pervasive pollution problem affecting all the world seas and represents a serious threat to the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean. On a globally interconnected world, marine pollution affects marine wildlife, marine ecological systems and beach quality, while negatively affecting fishing and maritime industries, and the livelihood of coastal communities.
Although it is widely known that marine litter largely originates from land-based activities, data on amounts, trends, sources and impacts of marine litter is quite limited. Obtaining more information on marine litter’s sources, pathways, and distribution, and assessing its interactions with marine life and bacterial decomposition is essential to the elaboration of mitigation measures and prevention actions.
This is what the Plastic Busters Initiative is about: monitoring, assessing, mitigating and preventing marine litter to reduce its environmental, social and economic risks.
The Plastic Busters Initiative aims to provide a concrete opportunity to like-minded projects That together contribute to a common objective: to effectively tackle the issue of marine litter in the Mediterranean.
Started in 2013, Plastic Busters has evolved into an umbrella initiative, under which a few projects have been (e.g., AdriCleanFish) or are currently being implemented (e.g., Plastic Busters MPAs or COMMON).
More about the history of the initiative
2013: PLASTIC BUSTERS, A SDSN FLAGSHIP SOLUTION
The Plastic Busters project idea was born in 2013 under the umbrella of SDSN Center for the Mediterranean at the “MED Solutions conference”, the first Regional SDSN Center for the Mediterranean conference within the framework of the global UN “Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN)”, which was held in Siena (Italy) in July 2013 to identify the first set of sustainable development solutions, and during which the project was selected as a flagship solution.
Led by the University of Siena (scientific Coordinator Prof. Maria Cristina Fossi) and implemented by a consortium of no less than 15 Partners from around the Mediterranean, the Plastic Busters project had the pioneering objective to tackle the issue of marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea through 4 actions still at the core of the Initiative:
Action 1: ASSESSMENT & HARMONIZED MONITORING METHODS
Addressing information gaps and needs with regards to marine litter, in complementing existing assessments carried out in the region as well as the further development and practical implementation of harmonized monitoring methods based on the work of UNEP/MAP monitoring guidance.
Action 2: DEMONSTRATION ACTIONS FOR TESTING, PREVENTION AND MITIGATION MEASURES
Developing and coordinating the implementation of demonstration projects showcasing actions to prevent, reduce and remove marine litter at the Mediterranean Sea based on the measures provided by the UNEP/MAP Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean (Articles 9 and 10).
Action 3: GOVERNANCE SUPPORT
Assessing the status of the implementation of the above-mentioned Regional Plan on Marine Litter at national, sub-regional and regional level, and prioritize as appropriate additional prevention and mitigation measures to tackle marine litter.
Action 4: CAPACITY-BUILDING & AWARENESS RAISING
Designing and coordinating the implementation of awareness raising campaigns tailor-made to the needs of the marine litter stakeholders and Education for Sustainable Development programs targeted to the educational community.
The Plastic Busters project also received the unanimous endorsement by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and achieved the prestigious UfM label in February 2016.
In 2017, as the original Plastic Busters project was gaining momentum, it evolved and naturally transformed into the Plastic Busters Initiative.