Arctic Coastal Cleanup

Beach Litter Svalbard 19 Photo credits WJ StrietmanBeach Litter cleanup in Svalbard (Photo: W.J. StrietmanPlastic pollution is a threat to our oceans, even in the remote Arctic. Marine litter, mostly plastic,  is scattered along even remote beaches and the sea bottom in the Arctic and found on remote frozen ice floes just 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Scientists have found microplastics throughout the water column and in global-scale high levels frozen in Arctic sea ice. One important source for the microplastic is degradation of plastic litter. Given the threat to the Arctic environment, plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment has been identified as a priority for the Arctic Council.

Arctic Coastal Cleanup Project

The project will contribute to enhancing efforts to remove litter from Arctic beaches and waterways. The project will establish partnerships with local organizations, community leaders and regional experts to increase the knowledge and awareness of the problem throughout the Arctic, contributing to reducing discharges of marine litter to the Arctic in the long term.

Main activities:

  • The Arctic Coastal Clean-Up will start with projects in Alaska, Iceland and Norway (Finnmark) to identify some areas with high levels of litter and establish methods and models for organization of clean-up actions, given the special Arctic conditions.
  • Based on the experiences from the pilot project, the project will be extended to enable partners in all Arctic Regions to participate.
  • The project will highlight the impact of marine litter on the Arctic’s unique environment, collect data on types and sources of the plastic litter found, and build awareness and partnerships which can have a positive effect both on clean-up and measures to reduce discharges of marine litter also in the long term.

Leads: Norway.


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