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Marine litter is everywhere: it is abundant even in the remote Arctic. Moreover, the Arctic Ocean may act as a sink for debris drifting from all over the world. In addition, there is an important direct input of plastic pollution from Arctic and Subarctic human activities, e.g. fishing. Therefore, the ratio between “transported” and “local” pollution is certainly a matter of discussion and consideration. Although there has been a tremendous increase in public and political awareness of the problem, large knowledge gaps still remain regarding the impact, extent and fate of plastics in the environment.


The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME) of the Arctic Council, has a mandate to address measures related to the conservation and sustainable use of the Arctic marine and coastal environment. PAME has endorsed, as part of its 2017-2019 work programme, a plan for a project to develop a Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic. The project evaluates the scope of the problem, addresses the impacts and contributes to the mitigation of marine litter pollution. The results of the study will illustrate the possibility of developing an Arctic regional action plan on marine litter.


GRID-Arendal is preparing the Literature Summary Review for this Desktop Study. The review compiles and analyses the literature on sources, drivers, pathways, distribution, ecological and socio-economic impacts of marine litter in the Arctic, as well as information on solutions and actions, aimed to mitigate and monitor marine pollution.

Tags: Marine Plastic Marine ecosystems Marine Debris

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