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The quest for seafloor macrolitter: a critical review of background knowledge, current methods and future prospects

The seafloor covers some 70% of the Earth’s surface and has been recognised as a major sink formarine litter. Still, litter on the seafloor is the least investigated fraction of marine litter, which is not surprising as most of it lies in the deep sea, i.e. the least explored ecosystem. Although marine litter is considered a major threat for the oceans, monitoring frameworks are still being set up. This paper reviews current knowledge and methods, identifies existing needs, and points to future developments that are required to address the estimation of seafloor macrolitter. It provides background knowledge and conveys the views and thoughts of scientific experts on seafloo rmarine litter offering a review of monitoring and ocean modelling techniques. Knowledge gaps that need to be tackled, data needs for modelling, and data comparability and harmonisation are alsodiscussed. In addition, it shows how research on seafloor macrolitter can inform international protection and conservation frameworks to prioritise efforts and measures against marine litterand its deleterious impacts.

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