Toolkit: Marine litter retention, Implementing your project, Raising awareness on marine litter

See also: Litter collection | Litter reception | Recycling and disposal | Project communication | Monitoring marine litter | Complementary activities

While strong project communications might help you to raise awareness about marine litter, awareness-raising about the problem of marine litter may be a specific objective of your project. To do so, an awareness-raising strategy should be developed, with the aim to build awareness about the problem of marine litter and encourage changes in behaviour to prevent marine litter. Awareness-raising activities go beyond the participants in a marine litter project by targeting people whose behaviours contribute to the problem of marine litter in your area. This will usually mean targeting those who litter on shore or discharge litter at sea. In regions where marine litter comes primarily from the maritime and fishing industry, this will mean targeting the shipping or aquaculture industries. In regions where tourism and recreational activities are major sources of litter, your awareness-raising activities will be focused on tourists and the general public.

Developing an awareness-raising strategy includes defining clear and measurable objectives and a set of tailored messages, activities and products to achieve these objectives. The first step will be to identify the context and the problem you want to alleviate. In particular, you need to identify the main contributors to the marine litter problem in your region. Monitoring the marine litter collected by your project may help you to do this. You will then be able to define your target audience, objectives, and develop appropriate messages and activities for each target audience. 

One of the projects assessed by MARELITT targeted boaters, tourists, students of fishing schools. Flyers and plastic bags were distributed to boaters, encouraging them to dispose of their litter responsibly. Posters explaining the biodegradability of products in the sea were placed on the beaches to attract tourists’ attention. Students from a local fishing school participated in the disassembling and sorting of collected fishing gears in harbours to be sent for recycling.

Your marine litter retention project can be used as an opportunity and a vehicle to raise awareness of the problem and impacts of marine litter, by attracting attention to the marine litter problem. Communicating about the impacts and successes of your project will help to raise awareness of marine litter in general.

One of the projects assessed by the MARELITT team organises public monitoring demonstrations every two years in which 20-30 bags are publicly sorted and analysed, to illustrate the marine litter problem and to make it more tangible to a wider audience. This also provides public recognition of the efforts of the fishermen who collect marine litter.