March 2019

New maps show the extent of marine litter in European seas

EMODnet launches new digital maps of beach and seafloor litter, providing a comprehensive information tool for marine policy and wider society.

Increasing concentrations of plastic in our environment are a growing threat to ecosystems and human health. Plastic has been detected in nearly all marine life – from whales to molluscs. In order to fight this threat, there have been calls in international fora such as G7, G20 and the United Nations to bring the many measurements and observations together to create a complete picture. Europe is now leading the way. Authorities and the wider society now have a new tool to help track, map and identify where litter ends up in our seas and oceans and check how it is affecting ocean health.

The production of the EMODnet maps is based on data from hundreds of data providers and monitoring efforts to gather marine litter information scattered over Europe. The maps show, among others, the spatial and temporal distribution of beach and seafloor litter based on official monitoring surveys and wider sampling efforts across European countries. The types of litter are also identified, from plastics to glass, wood and metal, and from fishing related items to land-based products such as cigarettes.

Discover the EMODnet marine litter maps 

Interested in vessel density maps? The detailed method that led to the creation of the maps is now available online


Vessel density maps are by far the most requested GIS data product by EMODnet Human Activities users, according to a survey carried out in 2016. The maps went live on EMODnet Human activities for visualisation and download on 11 March 2019. The full method that led to the creation of the maps is now available online, along with a webinar that tells you more about the new maps and the method used.

Find out more

Internship at the EMODnet Secretariat


The EMODnet Secretariat, based in Oostende (Belgium), opens an internship position to support communication and wider promotion of EMODnet, including the European Atlas of the Seas. The incumbent would need to be located in Belgium (commuting distance to Oostende) for the duration of the internship. The closing date for applications is 29 March 2019 at 17:00 CET.

Consult the internship description

 Is EMODnet on track? Open Stakeholder Consultation

EMODnet contributes to the EU's integrated maritime policy. Following the Green Paper "Marine Knowledge 2020", it had been estimated that public bodies in European countries were spending over one billion euro a year in observing the seas and oceans including work by hydrographic organisations, geological surveys, scientists and environmental agencies. However, scientists and engineers who wanted to use the data had encountered that they were difficult to find and were hampered by restrictive usage conditions and poor interoperability.

The Commission Communication on "Innovation in the Blue Economy" set out a roadmap for replacing the fragmented, inaccessible and inhomogeneous repositories of marine data in the EU by a sustainable process whereby data are easily accessible, interoperable and free of restrictions on use. EMODnet is now operational. Is EMODnet on track? Your views are important.

Fill the survey


Prepared and published by the EMODnet Secretariat
The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is financed by the European Union under Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

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