JOURNAL ARTICLE

Distribution and assessment of marine debris in the deep Tyrrhenian Sea (NW Mediterranean Sea, Italy)

Michela Angiolillo, Bianca di Lorenzo, Alessio Farcomeni, Marzia Bo, Giorgio Bavestrello, Giovanni Santangelo, Angelo Cau, Vincenza Mastascusa, Alessandro Cau, Flavio Sacco, Simonepietro Canese
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2015 March 15, 92 (1-2): 149-59
25604749
Marine debris is a recognized global ecological concern. Little is known about the extent of the problem in the Mediterranean Sea regarding litter distribution and its influence on deep rocky habitats. A quantitative assessment of debris present in the deep seafloor (30-300 m depth) was carried out in 26 areas off the coast of three Italian regions in the Tyrrhenian Sea, using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The dominant type of debris (89%) was represented by fishing gears, mainly lines, while plastic objects were recorded only occasionally. Abundant quantities of gears were found on rocky banks in Sicily and Campania (0.09-0.12 debris m(-2)), proving intense fishing activity. Fifty-four percent of the recorded debris directly impacted benthic organisms, primarily gorgonians, followed by black corals and sponges. This work provides a first insight on the impact of marine debris in Mediterranean deep ecosystems and a valuable baseline for future comparisons.

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