INCISE workshop

Litter in submarine canyons: source to sink

Marine litter is now a well-documented threat to marine ecosystems and has been found even at the deepest depths, where little is known about the magnitude and consequences of the problem. Submarine canyons act as conduits transporting sediment and nutrients from shallow water to the deep. As this transport system is not discriminative of what it transports, litter is also increasingly being funnelled through canyons. Many canyons are close to the continental shelf and can be spatially connected with rivers (i.e. one of the main sources of marine litter worldwide), and thus maybe subject to higher densities of domestic litter. Canyons affected by heavy fishing pressure may accumulate high densities of fishing-related debris.


Submarine canyons are important topographical features, which are vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts. To date, concerns have focused on impacts from fisheries, but it is now becoming apparent that marine litter is also a great threat to canyon ecosystems.


The half day workshop will cover all aspects of litter in submarine canyons:

-  Sources of litter – from macro to nano sizes

-  Source to sink transport

-  Types of litter found in canyons (macro and micro) and their distribution

-  Microplastics in marine systems and their transport pathways, transformations and environmental residence times

-  Effects of litter on taxa

-  Toxicity, particularly microplastics as a transport mechanism for toxins


The aim of the workshop is to set the scene on litter research in canyons (through expert talks), provide guidance on how to study/sample different types of litter from canyons, and finish with a Q&A/discussion session on future research work in this field, particularly as a coordinated team within the INCISE community.

Workshop Leaders

Dr Awantha Dissanayake

University of Gibraltar

Dr. Martina Pierdomenico

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

Dr Michael Clare

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton


School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Ireland

Website by Aaron Lim 

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