Marine litter

Littering of marine areas is a huge environmental problem and we find rubbish both on the beaches, in the water and on the seabed.

Published 4/18/2024

Animals can suffer significant damage and suffering in physical contact with the rubbish and plastic can also contribute to the spread of environmental toxins and alien species. Direct economic and social consequences include clean-up costs, damage to boats, lost fishing gear and beaches that are less attractive for recreation and tourism. Furthermore, negative effects on the richness and function of marine ecosystems over time can mean a deterioration of harvestable resources and ecosystem services.

Cleaning littered beaches has been part of the Governor's environmental work since 2000. Annually, around 13 tonnes of marine waste are picked up under the Governor's auspices. In addition, the amount of marine waste that annually drifts ashore in Brucebukta on Forlandet and on Luftskipodden is recorded. These are standardized registrations under the auspices of MOSJ (Environmental Monitoring Svalbard and Jan Mayen) and OSPAR (Oslo-Paris Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment in the North-East Atlantic).

Every year, several private campaigns are also carried out to clean up marine waste on the beaches of Svalbard, with contributions from both permanent residents and tourists traveling around the archipelago.

Beach clean-up guide
The Norwegian Environment Agency, in collaboration with the Governor, has prepared a beach clean-up guide for anyone who wants to organize clean-up operations. It also contains useful knowledge for those who wish to participate in such an operation. The guide describes both planning ahead of a clean-up operation and how to ensure the health and safety of beach cleaners.

The beach clean-up guide can be downloaded as a PDF (see right margin).