for the monitoring and assessment of plastic litter and microplastics in the
ocean have been published by the Joint Group of Experts on the
Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a body that
advises the United Nations system on the scientific aspects of marine
environmental protection, says an IMO release.
cover what to sample, how to sample it and how to record and assess plastics in
the oceans and on the shoreline, including establishing baseline surveys.
They include recommendations, advice and practical
guidance, for establishing programmes to monitor and assess the distribution
and abundance of plastic litter, also referred to as plastic debris, in the
The guidelines include common definitions for
categories of marine litter and plastics, examples of size and shape, how to
design monitoring and assessment programmes, sampling and surveys.
Sections cover citizen science programmes – which
involve members of the public in marine litter surveying and research. There
are detailed chapters on monitoring sea surface floating plastic and plastic on
The full set of guidelines is available to download
free-of-charge from the GESAMP website.
‘The guidelines can be used by national,
inter-governmental and international organisations with responsibilities for
managing the social, economic and ecological consequences of land- and
sea-based human-activities on the marine environment.
The guidelines are a response to the hitherto lack of
an internationally agreed methodology to report on the distribution and
abundance of marine plastic litter and microplastics and directly contribute to
the UN SDG Goal 14 on the oceans. Specifically, the guidelines are a response
to target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of
all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including plastic debris
and nutrient pollution.