Mitigating Measures

Mitigating measures concern the ways that litter is disposed of. Methods of debris disposal are employed to minimize its adverse impact on the marine environment. These measures are largely command and control regulations, and overlap with preventive ones if they also involve preventing certain types of debris from entering the sea. Examples of such measures include prohibition of certain types of litter (e.g. plastics) discharged into seas or to coastal landfills, dumping regulations if dumping is allowed, prohibition of certain types of wastes discharged into ecologically sensitive areas, specifications of the distances from the land and of wastestatus for disposal (e.g. waste discharged ≥12 miles from the land and wastes not containing substances harmful to the marine environment), and prohibition of certain activities at sea (e.g. incineration of wastes at sea).

Removing Measures

Removing measures aim to remove debris already present in the marine environment. Beach cleanups are commonly employed for this but are time-consuming, costly (see Newman et al. 2015) and only capture a fraction of the overall debris.

UK municipalities, for example, spend approximately €18 million each year

removing beach litter, representing a 37 % increase in cost over the past decade (Mouat et al. 2010). In addition to beach cleanups, a few initiatives have employed divers to collect and monitor benthic marine debris, for example, in Hawaii (Donohue et al. 2001) and the Florida Keys (Watson 2012). In Fishing for Litter initiatives fishers remove all litter items collected during normal fishing operations and deposit them safely on the quayside to then be collected for disposal. Gear retrieval programs encourage fishers to retrieve derelict fishing gear at sea during fishing operations (e.g. Noh et al. 2010; Watson 2012). While monitoring marine debris is concerned with recording information on debris types, amounts and sources, it can be classified as removing measure since it often concomitantly involves the removal of debris. Monitoring is instrumental in devising effective management strategies to prevent specific types of litter from entering the sea. Importantly, long-term monitoring programmes enable us to assess the effectiveness of legislation and coastal management polices (Rees and Pond 1995) and have the potential to help management at individual sites and to generate largescale pollution maps (from regional to global) to inform decision makers (Ribic et al. 2010).

Behavior-Changing Measures

Behavior-changing measures seek to influence behavior such that people engage in activities that help toreduce marine debris. Behavior-changing schemes are crosscutting and aid the development and implementation of the above-mentioned three types of measures. Such schemes aim to encourage people to embrace the notion of waste as a resource and choose the products that generate lower quantities of litter (preventive), dispose of waste in a more environmentally sound way (mitigating) and participate in beach cleanups (removal). Education campaigns (Hartley et al. 2015), activities raising awareness such as Fishing for Litter initiatives and provision of incentives are examples of such measures. Behavior-changing schemes are fundamental in addressing marine debris at its root.

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