Plastic Pollution and Marine Conservation - Chapter 7: Marine-protected areas and plastic pollution

Elsevier, Plastic Pollution and Marine Conservation: Approaches to Protect Biodiversity and Marine Life, Volume 1, 1 January 2022
Bonanno G.

Marine-protected areas (MPAs) are one of the most popular ways for the management and sustainable use of sea resources. However, the global pervasiveness and high abundance of plastic debris in the marine environment are growing threats also for MPAs. Artificial borders cannot stop plastics from entering MPAs and posing risks to vulnerable habitats and species. Plastic debris on the remote beaches of protected oceanic islands is now comparable to more populated and industrialized shores. As the total removal of plastics from MPAs is practically impossible, policies should target the root causes of marine plastic pollution, such as inadequate waste management and poor environmental awareness. International cooperation, enforced controls, regular monitoring, socioenvironmental programs, mainly targeted to tourists and beach users, and integrated prevention strategies are essential to address plastic pollution in MPAs. Further steps for the optimal management of MPAs should aim to improve the efficiency of the whole plastic waste management cycle, thus preventing and reducing debris entering the marine environment.