Combating maritime litter: Innovative solutions for fighting pollution in the oceans

Plastic bottles drifting in the sea; bags in the stomachs of turtles; COVID-19 masks dancing in the surf: Few images are as unpleasant to look at as those that show the contamination of our oceans. And few environmental issues are as urgent and as present in the public awareness. "Most people have an emotional connection to the sea. They think of ocean pollution as an attack on a place they long for," said Nikoleta Bellou, marine scientist at Hereon's Institute of Coastal System—Analysis and Modeling. Between 1990 and 2015 alone, an estimated 100 million metric tons of mostly plastic waste entered the oceans. In that vein, the study fits with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which started this year to emphasize a sustainable use of the seas.