Marine litter in the Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands are located right on the edge of the great pacific garbage patch, a natural ocean gyre that accumulated enormous amounts of litter over the past couple of years. About 70% of the artificial debris that enters the ocean eventually sinks to the ground but the rest, mainly plastic, keeps floating around until it either brakes down to micro plastic or ends up on a shore. The great pacific garbage patch brings so much plastic to the shores of the Marshall Islands that it is sometimes hard to see the beach under the plastic.

A littered beach in Aur, a typical scene at the shore line

There are international standards (e.g. by UN and OSPAR) to measure the amount of pollution by conducting systematic beach cleanups: all litter within a certain stretch of beach is collected, sorted into categories, counted and weighed. Doing this on multiple beaches and over a longer period of time allows to track the origins of certain litter items and give valuable recommendations for stricter policies to politicians.

Plastic paradise in Majuro

Surprisingly we could not find any publication about the amount of beach litter in the Marshall Islands. Therefore Henrik conducted such a study on his own back in 2022. Since this was a purely voluntary effort it took a while to analyze all the data and write everything down but now we present you the first Baseline Study on Beach Litter in the Marshall Islands. This is still a very small study with limited data but at least its something. More research is urgently needed, it would be great to continue this work as part of a properly funded project.