Graphical abstract :: Image: Authors

Carlos Dominguez-Carrió, Anna Sanchez-Vidal, Claude Estournel, Guillem Corbera, Joan Lluís Riera, Covadonga Orejas, Miquel Canals, Josep-Maria Gili, 2020. Seafloor litter sorting in different domains of Cap de Creus continental shelf and submarine canyon (NW Mediterranean Sea). Marine Pollution Bulletin. Volume 161, Part B, December 2020, 111744.

Abstract: We analyzed litter occurrence in 68 underwater video transects performed on the middle/outer continental shelf and submarine canyon off Cap de Creus (NW Mediterranean), an area recently declared Site of Community Importance (SCI). Low densities of urban litter were registered on the shelf (7.2 items ha−1), increasing in abundance towards the deepest part of the submarine canyon, with 188 items ha−1 below 1000 m depth. We hypothesize that the strong bottom currents that recurrently affect this area efficiently move litter objects from the shelf towards the deep. Of all litter items, approximately 50% had a fishing-related origin, mostly longlines entangled on rocks in the canyon head and discarded trawl nets in deeper areas. Over 10% of cold-water colonies observed had longlines entangled, indicating the harmful effects of such practices over benthic habitats. These results should be considered when designing mitigation measures to reduce litter pollution in Cap de Creus SCI.

Keywords: Plastics, Funneling, Litter hotspots, Longlines, Cold-water corals, Continental margin