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The revised Commission Decision 2017/848/EU requires EU Member States to establish threshold values for criteria of Descriptor 10 on marine litter. Threshold values, which are now mandatory through the new provisions, are intended to contribute to Member States' determination of a set of characteristics for Good Environmental Status and enable their assessment of the extent to which Good Environmental Status is being achieved under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter has been mandated, through the MSFD work program of the Common Implementation Strategy, to develop approaches for setting threshold values and to work towards agreed threshold values. This document sets out the scope of setting threshold values for marine litter criteria, explores general concepts of threshold setting and how those concepts can be translated to address the various hazardous effects of marine litter. It evaluates potential options for setting threshold values and their suitability for use with marine litter.
While thresholds for marine litter criteria in different environmental compartments may follow the same basic concepts, they may each require specific approaches and need to be discussed separately. Therefore, basic thoughts are presented and questions are raised, which should be addressed when defining threshold values for litter in the different marine compartments and for marine litter impacts. In conclusion, recommendations for marine litter threshold setting are made.