The Economic Impacts of Marine Litter

Marine litter has become very dangerous because of its increased volume that harms the marine environment. Pollution comes from a variety of anthropogenic sources; from the pesticide run-off to oil spills and even tourism. It affects the plants and animals that live in the water, where they seek for food and shelter. This also applies to people living both on the seaside and inland. The marine environment should be protected from litter because it affects economy, cultural values, flora, fauna, and human health.

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The Types and Sources of Marine Litter

There are numerous types of marine litter. They are wastewater, nutrients, synthetic organic compounds, sediments, garbage and plastic products, metals, radionuclides, and others. Litter is the result of the human activity such as everyday life, extensive land use, coastal infrastructure construction, agriculture and forestry, urban development, and industry. Many of the pollutants pose a particular hazard to the marine environment because they are both toxic, persistent and can accumulate in living organisms.

Furthermore, many developing countries experience the negative impact of tourism, and especially those that do not have sufficient technical and financial capabilities to replenish the resources expended by tourists and to remove their household waste. Such waste is often much larger than that generated in the daily activities of the entire population of the country which is the object of tourism. Many coastal cities attract tourists who bring them most of the annual income. However, areas that are closed due to pollution can completely kill the tourist business, ruining small businesses of whole countries. Nowadays, the implementation of green tourism brings positive results because it undertakes careful environmental management.

Implications of Marine Litter

Marine litter has negative consequences for the whole economy, fishery in particular, tourism, and so on. Bergmann et al. remind that the fish caught from the contaminated water can contain a sufficiently large number of hazardous chemicals that are dangerous to eat. Under the influence of pollution, poisoned marine organisms result in depletion of fauna, decline in fisheries, the destruction of natural landscapes, and recreational resorts and beaches. Marine litter also often leads to the closure of beaches. Moreover, it negatively influences cultural values. Often, tourists refuse to come to the countries, where floating islands of oil prevent them from swimming and sea voyages. In addition, economic costs associated with the clean-up of beaches, damage of fishing gear, health problems, loss of income from tourism, and more are hard to estimate. Apart from the economic aspect, there is also common humanity that dictates to people to respect the rest of the living creatures and save the beauty of the world. All scientists stress that it is necessary to preserve unique natural systems such as coral reefs, small islands, and coastal zones.

Governmental Policies

Issues of pollution by marine debris are becoming a priority for the economic sector and supervising branches of government. Restrictions and legal acts should be adopted to prevent and minimize the damage that industry, agriculture, tourism etc. cause to biodiversity. Such measures should include monitoring existing actions, assessing the environmental impacts of the new infrastructural projects and imposing limits on the human activity. Governmental policies can be directed to adopt tax charges addressing industrial waste, recycling, control and minimization of waste, etc. Any environmental management program should include such aspects as the improved functioning of settlements in coastal areas and integrated management and development of coastal zones.


Thus, marine litter is a serious problem having negative economic and ethical consequences. Numerous sources may become the reason for marine litter. It leads to the degradation of flora and fauna, tourism, and cultural values. It also harms people’s and animals’ lives. The marine environment should be protected from litter on the shore and in the water by implementing necessary legislative acts, controlling industry and agriculture and possibly limiting tourism.