Scientia Marina, Vol 83, No S1 (2019)

Spatial distribution of marine macro-litter on the seafloor in the northern Mediterranean Sea: the MEDITS initiative


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.04987.14A

Maria Teresa Spedicato
COISPA Tecnologia & Ricerca, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9939-9426

Walter Zupa
COISPA Tecnologia & Ricerca, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2058-8652

Pierluigi Carbonara
COISPA Tecnologia & Ricerca, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2529-2535

Fabio Fiorentino
Italian National Research Council (CNR), Institute for Marine Biological Resources and Biotechnologies (IRBIM), Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6302-649X

Maria Cristina Follesa
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, Cagliari University, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8320-9974

François Galgani
IFREMER/ LER/PAC, France
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8770-6054

Cristina García-Ruiz
Centro Oceanográfico de Málaga, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Spain
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2767-4200

Angélique Jadaud
MARBEC, IFREMER, IRD, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, France
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6858-3570

Christos Ioakeimidis
UN Environment / Mediterranean Action Plan, Mediterranean Pollution Assessment and Control Programme (MED POL), Barcelona Convention Secretariat, Greece
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9932-7836

Giorgos Lazarakis
Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters, Greece
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9106-9809

Giuseppe Lembo
COISPA Tecnologia & Ricerca, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9899-6189

Milica Mandic
University of Montenegro, Institute of Marine Biology, Montenegro
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8501-7618

Porzia Maiorano
Department of Biology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5737-3025

Marina Sartini
Aplysia Soc. Coop.r.l., Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1545-2109

Fabrizio Serena
Italian National Research Council (CNR), Institute for Marine Biological Resources and Biotechnologies (IRBIM), Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1428-8124

Alessandro Cau
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, Cagliari University, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4082-7531

Antonio Esteban
Centro Oceanográfico de Murcia, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Spain
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2896-7972

Igor Isajlovic
Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Croatia
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7101-9575

Reno Micallef
Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Fisheries Resource Unit, Malta
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1921-508X

Ioannis Thasitis
Fisheries Resources Division, Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, Cyprus
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0940-2212

Abstract


Marine litter is one of the main sources of anthropogenic pollution in the marine ecosystem, with plastic representing a global threat. This paper aims to assess the spatial distribution of plastic macro-litter on the seafloor, identifying accumulation hotspots at a northern Mediterranean scale. Density indices (items km–2) from the MEDITS trawl surveys (years 2013-2015) were modelled by generalized additive models using a Delta-type approach and several covariates: latitude, longitude, depth, seafloor slope, surface oceanographic currents and distances from main ports. To set thresholds for the identification of accumulation areas, the percentiles (85th, 90th and 95th) of the plastic spatial density distribution were computed on the raster data. In the northern Mediterranean marine macro-litter was widespread (90.13% of the 1279 surveyed stations), with plastic by far the most recurrent category. The prediction map of the plastic density highlighted accumulation areas (85th, 90th and 95th percentiles of the distribution, respectively, corresponding to 147, 196 and 316 items km–2) in the Gulf of Lions, eastern Corsica, the eastern Adriatic Sea, the Argo-Saronic region and waters around southern Cyprus. Maximum densities were predicted in correspondence to the shallower depths and in proximity to populated areas (distance from the ports). Surface currents and local water circulation with cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies were identified as drivers likely facilitating the sinking to the bottoms of floating debris.

Keywords


marine macro-litter; plastic; Mediterranean Sea; GAM modelling; accumulation areas; MEDITS

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