RIverine and Marine floating macro litter Monitoring and Modelling of Environmental Loading
The RIMMEL project will quantify floating macro litter loads through rivers to marine waters, by collecting existing data, developing an European observation network, deploying a camera system and using the resulting data to build a statistical inverse model of litter loading based on the characteristics of the catchments. This is the first-ever European-scale quantification of loads of floating litter to the European seas.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) (European Commission, 2008) is the key policy framework for the protection of the marine environment across Europe. It is aimed to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU's marine waters by 2020. The MSFD is divided into 11 thematic descriptors, being Descriptor 10 the one dedicated to the assessment of Marine Litter: 'Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment'.
Marine litter is an issue at global level and it has been identified as a high priority at the G7 Science Ministers Meeting (Berlin, 2015), highlighting the concern about plastics and related risks to marine life. On the other hand, literature refers to riverine and freshwater inputs as main sources of litter to the seas, but little research has been done on this subject so far. This lack of scientific data and knowledge calls for initiatives that can build capacity for quantification and monitoring in European rivers for environmental assessment of litter inputs to the marine environment. In this regard, the JRC has launched an exploratory research project: RIMMEL (RIverine and Marine floating macro litter Monitoring and Modelling of Environmental Loading).
RIMMEL aims to quantify floating macro litter loads through rivers to marine waters, by collecting existing data and developing a European observation network for acquisition of new data. Eventually, results will be used to build a statistical inverse model of litter loading based on catchments characteristics (flows, population, economic factors and others) upstream the observation points. This is the first-ever European-scale attempt for quantification of loads of floating litter to the European marine basins.
The setup of the monitoring network for collection of new data will offer a harmonized approach across EU Member States and beyond. RIMMEL will provide users with a Tablet Computer Application to record visual observations of floating macro litter in the river/sea boundary (estuaries). The monitoring network is targeted for researchers, MS authorities, River Commissions, NGOs, etc. Further information and registration details are available in the following link:
Additionally, the project will develop the RiverLitterCam methodology for continuous recording of floating macro litter in rivers, providing a new tool for observation and assessment of litter in freshwater/estuarine environments.
Results will bring a better understanding on litter dynamics from freshwater to marine environments, contributing to source identification and quantification, thus supporting policy makers for improvement of management options.