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New Publication Reviews Shoreline Debris Data in the North Pacific Ocean

AUG. 22, 2022 — On Aug. 16, 2022, a new NOAA publication, "Towards a North Pacific long-term monitoring program for ocean plastic pollution: A systematic review and recommendations for shorelines," was published in the journal Environmental Pollution. 

A person on a beach.
Elena Aguilar, a NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO) intern with the Marine Debris Program, is seen conducting a shoreline monitoring survey on the cobble beach at Richmond Beach Shoreline City Park, Washington. Image Credit: NOAA.

The publication reviews published data on shoreline debris abundances across the North Pacific Ocean and makes recommendations for harmonizing monitoring efforts in this region. NOAA Marine Debris Program staff Amy V. Uhrin and Hillary Burgess are co-authors together with researchers from the Korea Marine Litter Institute, the Republic of Korea Naval Academy, and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

The research team examined data and methods from 81 papers documenting shoreline debris in the North Pacific Ocean and found that the majority of studies took place for less than one year (76.5%). Additionally, most sampling sites were visited only once (57.3%). Precise site locations with GPS coordinates were provided in only 44.4% of the evaluated studies.

The amount of debris was reported using nine different measurement units, with item counts per area and item counts per mass being most commonly reported for macro- and microplastics, respectively. Because of these inconsistencies, most of the reviewed studies could not be repeated by others given the information provided. The article proposes a series of guidelines with regard to marine debris shoreline sampling metrics, indicators, methods, and target goals in the North Pacific Ocean in order to improve comparability and repeatability.   

The article was written in response to the Terms of Reference for Working Group 42 of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), of which Amy is a member. The group is evaluating indicators of marine plastic pollution through the drafting of four companion review papers examining the abundance and distribution of plastic pollution in biota, water, sediments, and on shorelines.  

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Last updated Sunday, August 28, 2022 3:06pm PDT