Global review of beach debris monitoring and future recommendations
Marine debris is distributed worldwide and constitutes an increasing threat to our environment. The exponential increase of plastic debris raises numerous concerns and has led to an intensification in plastic monitoring and research. However, global spatial and temporal patterns and knowledge gaps in debris distribution, both on land and at sea, are relatively poorly understood, mainly due to a lack of comprehensive datasets. Here we critically review the quality of the available information on beach plastic debris worldwide to highlight where the most urgent actions are required, and to promote the standardization of reporting metrics and sampling methods among researchers. From a total of 174 studies evaluated, 27.0% reported marine debris densities in metrics that were not comparable. Some studies failed to report basic parameters, such as the date of the sampling (9.8%) or the size of the collected debris (19.5%). Our findings show that current research regarding beach debris requires significant improvement and standardization and would benefit from the adoption of a common reporting framework to promote consensus within the scientific community.