Monitoring Marine Waste

Waste management depends on measurement. In order to implement impactful strategies to change the current marine-waste outlook, data must be gathered on how much waste there is, where it’s accumulating and what is its source. This information provides a baseline – the current state of marine waste in the environment before implementation of the strategy. The success of a strategy can be evaluated by comparing the levels of marine waste after its implementation against the baseline.

Currently there is a significant lack of data on waste in Africa. Therefore, developing a baseline in Africa through marine-waste monitoring is a key step to ensure impactful results are achieved. This waste project aims to quantify waste in the rivers, catchments and estuaries that will provide the baselines upon which strategies can be built and against which their effectiveness can be measured.

The African Marine Waste Network is trial-testing marine-waste monitoring methods, such as litter-catching river trawls, to identify a simple, cost-effective and feasible marine-waste monitoring programme to roll out into Africa to solve this problem. Initial role-out plans are in place in the Western Indian Ocean Region for 2019. Such a monitoring programme implemented on the beaches and in the rivers of Africa will work towards building baselines for Africa while being accessible to many for maximum impact and provide an excellent opportunity for volunteers and students to learn about the marine waste issue while collecting vital data to help solve it.