LIFE LEMA - Intelligent marine LittEr removal and Management for local Authorities

LIFE15 ENV/ES/000252

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Contact details:

Contact person: Beatriz Marticorena
Tel: +34 943 11 29 45
Fax: +34 943 43 14 27
Email: bmarticorena@gipuzkoa.eus

Project description:


UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) defines marine litter as any persistent, manufactured solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. Marine litter is a global and cross-boundary issue; it is found in all seas and oceans, and accumulates on the surface, seafloor and seashore. The presence of marine litter causes numerous impacts on the environment, biota, local economy and public health. It is perceived as one of the main threats to the marine environment by the general public.

Nevertheless, only 15% of litter entering the sea reaches the shore; while another 15% remains floating on the surface, and 70% gets entangled and sinks to the seabed. Most of the scientific literature on marine litter has focused on defining the concept, and its origin and abundance in different seas, as well as the development of reporting protocols and monitoring guidelines. The next step should be to reduce its abundance, in order to achieve "good environmental status" as defined in Descriptor 10 of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which deals with marine litter. Adequate management by local authorities, prevention and public awareness programmes are a key part of this process.


The objective of the LIFE LEMA project is to define a management service for local authorities to select sustainable approaches for tackling the problem of floating marine litter (FML) before it arrives at shore areas with difficult access, or it sinks. The service, to be initially implemented in two transnational regions in the SE Bay of Biscay (Gipuzkoa and Pyrénées-Atlantiques) will include tools and management plans. The replicability of the service will be assessed for the areas of Marseille and Bilbao.

Most previous initiatives on FML have focused on defining amounts, source and composition, to assess environmental pollution. LIFE LEMA goes a step further by proposing an integrated protocol through which optimised solutions can be derived in order to manage marine litter.

In particular, the project will:

  • Draw up ocean-meteorological models to predict movement and accumulation hotspots of FML, to facilitate collection;
  • Develop an IT tool to integrate different data, including available FML methods (vessels, barriers) and their efficiency, as well as FML operational detection and forecasting models, in order to estimate the environmental impact and cost of FML management actions. This tool will provide local authorities with detailed information for decision-making, allowing them to identify and apply the best management actions for the given situation and time of year;
  • Elaborate management plans for the prevention and reduction of FML;
  • Demonstrate sustainable collection actions at sea, including energy audits and retrofitting of two fishing vessels and three sea-cleaning vessels with eco-designed FML collection technology. This will reduce the energy consumption and thus the carbon footprint of collection activities, and provide an additional source of income for fishermen;
  • Install a floating barrier for FML collection; and
  • Use innovative technologies for the detection of FML including HF radars, thermal cameras and aerial drones; and
  • Establish a European network on marine litter to ensure transferability of results.
  • The project contributes to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

    Expected results:

  • The removal of, at least, 100 tonnes of FML during the duration of the project;
  • Total collection rates of 55 tonnes/year in France and 35 tonnes/year in Spain three years after the project end (continuation in pilot areas and subsequent replication in Marseille and Bilbao);
  • One fuel-saving measure implemented onboard each vessel (five in total), entailing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions up to 10% compared to current practices;
  • Implementation of the IT tool and management plans by two local authorities;
  • Reduction by 5% of the current collection and management costs of FML located at sea and on beaches;
  • Six people (boat skippers and environmental technicians) trained, and creation of four new jobs; and
  • Production of a methodological guide on FML sustainable management.



Environmental issues addressed:


Information - Governance - Environmental training - Capacity building
Waste - Packaging and plastic waste
Habitats - Marine


decision making support‚  waste collection‚  marine pollution‚  marine environment

Target EU Legislation

  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Directive 2008/56 - Framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (M ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Local authority
Description The provincial council of Gipuzkoa is the public body responsible for the government and administration of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country. It also provides support to 89 municipalities of Gipuzkoa.
Partners Surfrider Foundation Europe, France Fundación AZTI - AZTI Fundazioa, Spain Syndicat Mixte Kosta Garbia, France Ville de Biarritz, France Lyonnaise des Eaux, France


Project reference LIFE15 ENV/ES/000252
Duration 01-SEP-2016 to 01-SEP -2019
Total budget 2,159,103.00 €
EU contribution 1,229,465.00 €
Project location País Vasco(España) Aquitaine(France)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version