Definition of Marine litter, sources and impacts.

Marine litter is any solid material persistent discarded, manufactured or processed, disposed of, abandoned or lost in the marine and coastal environment which is a huge challenge for the society of today and in the future due to significant environmental implications, economic, social, political and cultural. The presence of marine litter creates a negative impact on coastal and marine ecosystems as well as the services that they provide affecting the lives and well-being of the populations.

Vast is the number of scientific papers on the threats that marine litter poses to wildlife and marine ecosystems, with impacts as varied as imprisonment, ingestion, bioaccumulation and bioampliação of toxic chemical substances emitted from plastic materials or adsorbed and/or accumulated in their fragments, facilitating the introduction of species not indigenous, damaging habitats and communities.

The geographical origin of the litter observed in a certain place is not of easy identification. Due to its capacity of persistence, the marine litter can be transported to earth by rivers, drainage systems, wastewater treatment, by the action of marine currents, waves, the wind and the rain waters over great distances and remains in the marine environment for an indefinite period, making it often difficult to assess their route, geographical origin, time and sector.

Marine litter has its origin in different terrestrial and marine sources and its typology relates to a large extent with the consumption patterns. Marine litter form part of a wide range of materials, including plastics, wood, metal, rubber, glass and paper, however, the studies show that for the majority of sites, at least 70-75% of materials identified are plastic.

Marine litter, and in particular the accumulation of plastic litter, has been identified as one of the largest global problems of our times. Marine litter can be transported by currents of the oceans since its origin until long distances and can be found in all marine bays and even in remote areas such as the deserts islands in the middle of the ocean, or deep sea, literally, this pollution is present in all the oceanic ecosystems. Marine litter has a wide range of adverse impacts, both for the fauna and marine flora, as well as in social and economic terms.