Are Litter, Plastic and Microplastic Quantities Increasing in the Ocean?

Springer Nature

Blank Rome LLP Of Counsel Joan M. Bondareff co-authored the article, Are Litter, Plastic and Microplastic Quantities Increasing in the Ocean? (Springer Nature, 2021).


Whilst both plastic production and inputs at sea have increased since the 1950s, several modelling studies predict a further increase in the coming years in these respective quantities. We compiled scientific literature on trends in marine litter, consisting largely of plastic and microplastics in the ocean, understanding that monitoring programs or assessments for these aspects are varied, frequently focusing on limited components of the marine environment in different locations, and covering a wide spectrum of marine litter types, with limited standardization. Here we discuss how trends in the amounts of litter in the marine environment can be compared with the information provided by models. Increasing amounts of plastic are found in some regions, especially in remote areas, but many repeated surveys and monitoring efforts have failed to demonstrate any consistent real temporal trend. An observed steady state situation of plastic quantities in many marine compartments and the fate and transport of plastic in the marine environment remain areas for much needed further research.

To read the full article, please click here.

Reprinted with permission.

In January 2021, Joan received a formal letter of appreciation from the United Nations, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea Office of Legal Affairs, for her writing contributions to the Second World Ocean Assessment (“WOA II”), which was adopted during the General Assembly’s 75th Session on December 31, 2020, as part of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects, which covered the period 2016–2020. The WOA II assesses the state of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects, and focuses on how to improve the science-policy interface to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and marine resources. It will be finalized by February/March 2021, and the translation in all the other UN languages is scheduled to be completed around May 2021.