Stranded Litter Quantification Protocol (SLQP) is a scientifically derived process to quantify stranded litter along coastlines. It provides valuable insights on marine debris quantities and coastal distribution for monitoring purposes.
Monitoring plastic pollution quantities along the world’s coastlines is a difficult and imprecise science. Knowledge is most often based on non-representative data of low quality, making it difficult to plan effective cleanup efforts and follow trends in marine littering over time.
There is an urgent need for unbiased and robust data on littering along coastlines to tackle this pressing environmental challenge.
The Stranded Litter Quantification Protocol (SLQP) is an analysis service developed by SALT Lofoten. The service provides a standardised process of stratified random sampling of stranded marine litter in the geographical region to be monitored. Data collected in the field is analysed statistically, producing reliable indicators of quantities and distribution of marine litter along the selected coastline.
This information can then be used by policymakers, decision-makers and environmental authorities to monitor trends and plan cleanup efforts.
The main source of information on marine litter along coastlines today is volunteer data of low resolution and insufficient quality. The SLQP fills a gap in terms of providing a robust and scalable process for the collection of unbiased data on marine litter along coastlines.
SLQP data can be used to estimate the extent of stranded litter in the region and indicate the spatial distribution of littering. Such information is valuable in terms of budgeting cleanup efforts in and between regions, and for larger scale monitoring.
Based on SLQP data, SALT and GRID Arendal are currently developing a predictive model to identify specific sites as hotspots for stranded litter. If successful, the model has the potential to become a powerful planning tool for selecting the most urgent cleanup sites and optimising beach cleanup operations – especially along complex and inaccessible coastlines, such as those in the Arctic.
The SLQP has already produced large data sets in Norway and is commercially available for use in other geographies. The service uses freely available map layers and very little expensive equipment, making it accessible to most users. Target market groups currently include companies in the ocean industries, municipal authorities, and marine and coastal authorities.
The SLQP also has the potential to be used for ground-truthing – gathering information by direct observation using remote sensor data technologies such as satellites and underwater and airborne drones. In the future, monitoring efforts can be automated based on deep learning image analysis, a method of potentially great interest to technology developers on the international market.