[MARMAM] New publication on distribution patterns of floating marine debris in German waters (Bianca Unger)

Unger, Bianca Bianca.Unger at tiho-hannover.de
Mon Sep 21 07:08:47 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

My Co-Authors and I are delighted to announce the publication of our recent article on distribution patterns of floating marine debris in German waters. The presence of marine litter in the marine environment is a potential hazard for marine mammals since they ingest marine litter items or get entangled. Thus, the knowledge on the distribution, especially in areas designed for nature conservation, is of particular importance for assessing the risk for marine mammals.


Unger, B., Herr, H., Viquerat, S., Gilles, A., Burkhardt-Holm, P., Siebert, U. Opportunistically collected data from aerial surveys reveal spatio-temporal distribution patterns of marine debris in German waters. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-10610-9.

Link to full paper:



Marine debris is known for its ubiquitousness and harmful effects on marine life. This study is the first analysis to provide information
on the distribution of floating marine debris in German waters using aerial survey data collected between 2002 and 2016. During
regular harbour porpoise monitoring flights, 191,167 km were covered and 26,512 floating debris items recorded (average encounter
rate 0.1387 items/km). Debris was encountered more often in the North Sea than in the Baltic Sea (0.16 items/km; 0.08 items/km). The
average encounter rate was higher in offshore waters than in coastal areas. Overlaps of marine debris distribution with 'Special Areas of
Conservation' are a particular reason for concern. Moreover, the spring months (March-May) were identified to be the time of the year
with the highest average encounter rates for marine debris. Fishing-related debris was shown to contribute up to 25% of the total
number of all observed items. This study shows that opportunistically collected data on marine debris from aerial surveys are valuable
for identifying distribution patterns of floating debris without additional survey effort and costs. These data can be used as baseline
information to inform management schemes such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Enjoy reading!


Bianca Unger
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Dr. Bianca Unger

Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW)
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation
Werftstr. 6 / 25761 Büsum

Bianca.Unger at tiho-hannover.de<mailto:Bianca.Unger at tiho-hannover.de>


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