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About marine litter


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Marine litter refers to waste that has gone astray and ended up in the sea. It is a serious environmental issue that has major negative consequences for the marine environment.

In Norway, the majority of littering along the coastline consists of plastic. The litter originates both from land-based sources and sea-based sources such as fishing activities and aquaculture. The volume of waste is now affecting natural environments along our coast. Plastic objects that end up in the sea break down into microplastics and nanoplastics over time. This can be harmful to marine life through animals and fish consuming the plastic, resulting in toxic substances and chemicals making their way into the food chain. 

Waste types such as rope, fishing pots and fishing nets also cause great harm because animals get tangled up in them and become stuck.

Knowledge about marine litter is growing. New research and important new data on the topic are constantly being released. Regulations and measures to prevent plastic littering are also being developed. The topic also attracts great attention, both nationally and internationally. Various parties around the world are making major contributions through clean-up work and in the fight against marine litter. 

Collaboration and experience sharing across sectors and borders are important for identifying good solutions to this global environmental issue. 

Our mission

The Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment is responsible for monitoring and being a driving force in work on marine litter through the dissemination of relevant knowledge and the development of technologies and methodologies. We pay particular attention to marine litter originating from sea-based sources.

The work to limit marine litter nationally and internationally is a top priority in Norway. The work and priorities in this area are addressed in, amongst others, the plastic strategy in report to the Storting no. 45 (2016-2017) Waste as a resource - about waste policies and circular economics.

Visit Miljøstatus for more facts about marine litter in Norway.