Marine LitterWatch (MLW) is a model developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) which combines citizen engagement and modern technology to tackle the problem of marine litter. It aims to help fill data gaps on marine litter found on beaches relevant for EU marine environmental policy (the Marine Strategy Framework Directive), while involving citizens in its collection and monitoring. In addition, it allows for the gathering of data from clean-up initiatives.
The MLW app allows users organized in engaged communities to set-up events and conduct surveys on items found on the beach. It uses a European master list of marine litter items. These are items currently found on Europe’s beaches, for example, various plastic items, cigarette butts, bottles, fishing materials, etc. The data submitted through the app is stored in a public central database hosted by the EEA. It is then made available through the EEA website for national authorities, research and society at large. With time, the public data collected by MLW should allow for a better understanding of marine litter distribution and composition, and thus support its management.
MLW has been developed by the EEA in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society, the Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia, the North Sea Foundation and the PERSEUS FP7 research project.