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Citizen science for better management: Lessons learned from three Norwegian beach litter data sets

Falk-Andersson, Jannike, Berkhout, Boris Woody, Abate, Tenaw Gedefaw
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.138 pp. 364-375
beaches, data collection, fisheries, global positioning systems, marine environment, monitoring, protocols, waste management, water pollution
Increased plastic consumption and poor waste management have resulted in litter representing an ever-increasing threat to the marine environment. To identify sources and evaluate mitigation measures, beach litter has been monitored. Using data from two citizen science protocols (CSPs) and OSPAR monitoring of Norwegian beaches, this study 1) identifies the most abundant litter types, 2) compares OSPAR to citizen science data, and 3) examines how to improve the management relevance of beach litter data. The dominant litter types were; food and drink- and fishery related items, and unidentifiable plastic pieces. Data from CSPs are consistent with OSPAR data in abundance and diversity, although few OSPAR beaches limit verification of CSP data. In contrast to OSPAR, the CSPs estimate the weight of the litter. CSPs lack important variables which could explain why some litter types are abundant in some particular areas. The latter could be improved by recording GPS positions.