IMDOS flyer website
Anthropogenic marine debris, particularly plastic, poses a growing threat to marine ecosystems, maritime activitiesy and the wellbeing of the ocean users. Pollution from marine debris in the ocean is a multi-dimensional problem with economic, environmental, cultural, and, through contamination of marine food sources, human health risks and costs. Intrinsically aligned with the goals of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the scope of the Clean Ocean Laboratory, our event will discuss the state and the ways forward for the implementation of the Integrated Marine Debris Observing System (IMDOS) needed to comprehensively document and monitor the state of the problem and assess the efficiency of mitigation measures.

Anthropogenic marine debris is a global, multidisciplinary problem. Our event will reinforce dialogues between experts and activists from the scientific community, governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations, and from the private sector and civil society, to discuss the most critical challenges and the roadmap of solutions. We will highlight recent progress in new technologies for detection and tracking of marine debris, modeling, standardisation and consolidation of databases and identify gaps remaining in our understanding, observations, quantification and characterisation of sources, pathways, fate, sinks, and impacts of debris. Discussions will also include reports on new aspects, such as transport of biological species colonising marine debris, and the release of nutrients, greenhouse gases and toxins by degrading plastic. 

The event will stimulate discussion on new technologies, policies, and strategies based on scientific knowledge that is needed to reduce marine pollution and, consequently, participate in restoring ocean health.  

Support of research, innovative solutions and mitigating actions requires an efficient observing system, including in situ measurements, sampling, remote sensing, and modeling. The concept of IMDOS harmonises these observational tools, approaches, and products to optimise efforts unravelling potential long-lasting effects on the planet. 

Addressing marine debris pollution is only possible with the broad involvement of all stakeholders including the industry and the civil society. 

Expected outcomes from this event include enhanced cooperation bringing together multidisciplinary approaches from diverse communities of stakeholders, including citizen scientists and indigenous communities. 

IMDOS is a conceptual model harmonising observational tools, approaches, and products while embracing the full complexity of the composition, dynamics, and impacts of anthropogenic debris, particularly plastic. The concept was first presented by a large group of experts at the OceanObs’19 conference and supported by many organisations. With the global extent, complex and everchanging composition and long lifelong-life span of marine debris, synthesis of a variety of observations is needed to track debrisit from itsthe source to itsthe impact, to monitor the life cycle, close the balance, and to coordinate mitigation measures. IMDOS suggests the intelligent and dynamic integration of shoreline and at-sea in situ observations, remote sensing and numerical modeling, tasked to address the most urgent and important needs of the stakeholders. 

Scientific background documents

This event is organised by a consortium of 14 international ocean experts and is hosted by GEO Blue Planet and Mercator Ocean International as an official satellite activity of the UN Ocean Decade Clean Ocean Laboratory. 

Organising committee:

  • Audrey Hasson, GEO Blue Planet/EU4OceanObs, Mercator Ocean International, France
  • Stefano Aliani, CNR Institute Marine Science, Italy
  • Manuel Arias Ballesteros, ARGANS Ltd, UK
  • Britta Denise Hardesty, CSIRO, Australia
  • Francois Galgani, IFREMER, France
  • Kara Lavender Law, Sea Education Association, USA
  • Laurent Lebreton, The Ocean Cleanup, New Zealand
  • Marc Lucas, Collecte Localisation Satellites – CLS, France
  • Christa Marandino, GEOMAR, Germany
  • Nikolai Maximenko, University of Hawaii, USA
  • Artur Palacz, International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCP) / Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAN), Poland
  • Hans-Peter Plag, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
  • Alexander Turra, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
  • Matteo Vinci, National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics – OGS, Italy

The event is hosted by Mercator Ocean International in the framework of EU4OceanObs, which facilitates the GEO Blue Planet EU Coordination.

The IMDOS satellite activity is intrinsically aligned with the goals of the UN Ocean Decade and its Clean Ocean Laboratory event. Our event will promote collaboration with relevant endorsed UN Decade programmes and contributors. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.1 will be addressed through discussions at the event and by the future IMDOS. 

Anthropogenic marine debris is a global, transboundary issue and the UN Clean Ocean Laboratory is the best platform to discuss the innovating solutions and mitigating actions at local, national and regional levels. By consolidating local components into a global network, IMDOS disseminates important knowledge and strengthens dialogue between stakeholders on various scales and in different geographical regions. 

We expect that the livethis event event and its concluding document will create new opportunities for partnerships, attract new stakeholders into the Ocean Decade, and catalyse future actions. 

Air-Sea Observations for a Clean Ocean

  • 18 Nov, 5:00 – 7:00 pm CET and 19 Nov 2021, 2:00 – 4:00 am CET
  • Join Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS) and the Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) for a community discussion of how observations and understanding of air-sea interactions can support a clean ocean!
  • For more information and to register, click here.

For all official satellite activities of the Clean Ocean Laboratory, click here :

Programme of live sessions

Participants will have the option to listen to each session and ask questions in English or French. 

High-level introduction on the why/what/how of monitoring marine litter.

This session will be held in English with live French interpretation available.

More information, coming soon.

Knowledge exchange between communities and fields.

This session will be held in French with live English interpretation available.

More information, coming soon.

Global discussions on the future of Integrated Marine Debris Observing System (IMDOS).

This session will be held in English with live French interpretation available.

More information, coming soon.

Click here to register

Virtual Poster Hall

A virtual poster hall will be available online from 10 to 30 November 2021 via MIRO.

To submit a poster, please send ashort plain language abstract (max 100 words) to before 22 October 2021. 

We address our call to all experts to participate in the poster hall including, but not limited to, academics, professional and citizen scientists, engineers, activists, indigenous communities organisations, private companies and intergovernmental organisations. 

If selected, participants have the choice to submit a poster (1 X 1 square) and/or a 2-to-5-minute video recording presentation of their poster by 5 November.  You can already have a look at the  template MIRO board that will host the poster hall, available here:

All the posters and video presentations will be made available on MIRO one week prior to the live event and will be kept open until the end of the month, 30 November. After the event, posters and presentations will be published on the dedicated web page and compiled as pdf proceedings.

The Poster Hall will be open from 10 to 30 November 2021 and will consist of posters and video presentations in 4 different sessions:

Trans-disciplinary Approaches Session 

Recent studies reveal new impacts that anthropogenic marine debris poses on marine ecosystems and on human society. This includes but is not limited to transport of invasive biological species, supply of nutrients to the oligotrophic ocean, release of greenhouse gases by degrading plastic, and losses in the fishing and tourism industries. Addressing the mitigation of marine debris requires transdisciplinary approaches bringing all stakeholders to the table.This session invites posters on innovative transdisciplinary efforts to understand and tackle the marine debris problem at different levels.

Monitoring Technologies and Modelling Session

There is a need for regular and standardized monitoring of marine litter in order to understand long-term changes in marine litter pollution and for the successful development and implementation of mitigation strategies. This session will show-case a wide range of in situ and remote sensing methods, technologies and associated best practices for observation, quantification and characterization of the diverse nature, sources, fate, and impacts of marine debris. Experts are also invited to share state-of-the modelling methods used to complement marine debris monitoring and scientific assessments. 

Networks Session

Marine litter monitoring is supported by many communities of practice and emerging observing networks which are gathered locally as well as globally around specific indicators, common observing or modelling technologies, citizen initiatives, or indigenous traditions. This session seeks the creation of synergies amongst these networks and communities of practice which want to share their experience in fostering cooperation within and outside their communities for the benefit of building an Integrated Marine Debris Observing System.

Digital Ecosystems Session

The wealth of existing data, information and knowledge on marine litter and debris is distributed in a complex web of databases, portals and aggregating platforms. A robust and collaborative digital ecosystem which integrates various distributed data management frameworks and resources is key to offer access to relevant products to a wide range of stakeholder communities including scientists and policy makers. This session invites posters on specific databases or data products but also coordinated actions delivering information to stakeholders addressing the challenges of marine litter pollution monitoring and mitigation. Posters presenting transformative approaches to a digital ecosystem for marine debris are particularly welcome.

Hosts & Sponsors