A JRC-run project and a dedicated application are bringing together scientists from across the EU and its neighbourhood to monitor and map litter floating from rivers into the seas. The project supports the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the EU's policy framework for the protection of the marine environment which aims to achieve good environmental status of the EU's marine waters by 2020.

The seas provide a wealth of ecosystem services that support the economy and human well-being, including food provision, climate regulation, coastal protection from storms, water purification and recreational activities. To date, sustainable management of these services has been hampered by the fact they are difficult to quantify.

A new mobile phone application developed by the European Environment Agency is hoped to help tackle the problem of marine litter. As a result of our unsustainable consumption patterns, large amounts of waste, including plastic debris, are accumulating in Europe’s oceans and coastal areas and pose a serious danger to marine wildlife and human health.

With the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in 2008, the EU wants to ensure the protection of the whole marine environment and the achievement of ‘Good Environmental Status’ for Europe’s seas by 2020. As this year Member States are halfway through the timetable of the Directive, the Commission recently held the HOPE (Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems) conference to reflect on the main challenges and potential solutions to protect the planet’s marine ecosystems.