Composition, spatial distribution and sources of macro-marine litter on the Gulf of Alicante seafloor (Spanish Mediterranean)

Authors: Santiago García-Rivera, Jose Luis Sánchez Lizaso, Jose María Bellido Millán

Abstract: The composition, spatial distribution and source of marine litter in the Spanish Southeast Mediterranean were assessed. The data proceed from a marine litter retention programme implemented by commercial trawlers and were analysed by GIS. By weight, 75.9% was plastic, metal and glass. Glass and plastics were mainly found close to the coast. A high concentration of metal was observed in some isolated zones of both open and coastal waters. Fishing activity was the source of 29.16% of the macro-marine litter, almost 68.1% of the plastics, and 25.1% of the metal. The source of the other 60.84% could not be directly identified, revealing the high degree of uncertainty regarding its specific origin. Indirectly however, a qualitative analysis of marine traffic shows that the likely sources were merchant ships mainly in open waters and recreational and fishing vessels in coastal waters.

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