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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
Project

Clean Sea LIFE

Clean Sea LIFE
Clean Sea LIFE

Clean Sea LIFE was an awareness-raising project that reduced marine litter along Italian coasts. The team involved 170 000 citizens and fishers who removed 112 tonnes of waste from the Mediterranean. The campaign reached around 34 million people on social media and national television. Their work inspired new Italian legislation to reduce and prevent marine litter. More than 20 000 people signed the project’s Pledge to the Sea.

The main direct environmental benefit is the reduced habitat degradation and impact caused by marine litter on biodiversity, as over 112 tons of marine litter were removed, including 600 lost fishing gears from underwater (probably the amount is underestimated as many clean-up activities were unreported). The impact on biodiversity of the removal of marine litter is expected to be significant, as it is one of the major threats to marine ecosystems due to entanglement, ingestion and suffocation of marine wildlife, as well as transfer of plastic contaminants along the food chain and the spread of invasive species.

The project contributed to national and EU policy and legislation. A project campaign, promoted by associated beneficiaries Legambiente and MedSharks in collaboration with other NGOs, led to a national law banning micro-beads in cosmetics in early 2020. The project inspired a draft law to facilitate “Fishing For Litter” activities, and six local regulations banning balloon releases. Moreover, project staff assisted authorities to apply EU laws, for example, prosecuting a marine litter spill event.