Detecting the origin of marine benthic litter is fundamental for developing policies aimed at achieving the Good Environmental Status in European Seas by 2020, as requested by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The abundance and composition of benthic litter in the Northern and Central Adriatic Sea were investigated at 67 stations with bottom trawl nets. Average density of benthic litter was 913 ± 80 items/km2, ranking the Adriatic as one of the most polluted basins worldwide. Plastic was dominant in terms of numbers (80%) and weight (62%), and mainly consisted in bags, sheets and mussel nets. Higher quantities of litter were found in coastal areas, especially in front river mouths, coastal cities and mussel farms. In deep waters, litter hotspots were associated with most congested shipping lanes, indicating an additional litter input to the basin. Benthic litter composition resulted to be largely driven by the vicinity to local sources, i.e. mussel farming installations and most congested shipping routes. These findings provide useful insights to set measures to manage marine litter in the Adriatic region, and possibly to minimize this anthropogenic pollution.
Giulia Pasquini, Francesca Ronchi, Pierluigi Strafella, Giuseppe Scarcella, Tomaso Fortibuoni, Waste Management, Volume 58, December 2016, Pages 41–51