Home » INTERNATIONAL MARINE LITTER DATABASE » Human footprint in theabyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris

Sanae Chiba, Hideaki Saito, Ruth Fletcher, Takayuki Yogi, Makino Kayo, Shin Miyagi, Moritaka Ogido,
Katsunori Fujikura,

Human footprint in theabyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris,

Marine Policy,
Available online 6 April 2018, ISSN 0308-597X,


This study reports plastic debris pollution in the deep-sea based on the
information from a recently developed database. The Global Oceanographic
Data Center (GODAC) of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and
Technology (JAMSTEC) launched the Deep-sea Debris Database for public
use in March 2017. The database archives photographs and videos of
debris that have been collected since 1983 by deep-sea submersibles and
remotely operated vehicles. From the 5010 dives in the database, 3425
man-made debris items were counted. More than 33% of the debris was
macro-plastic, of which 89% was single-use products, and these ratios
increased to 52% and 92%, respectively, in areas deeper than 6000 m. The
deepest record was a plastic bag at 10898 m in the Mariana Trench.
Deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17% of plastic debris images,
which include entanglement of plastic bags on chemosynthetic cold seep
communities. Quantitative density analysis for the subset data in the
western North Pacific showed plastic density ranging from 17 to 335
items km−2 at depths of 1092–5977 m. The data show that, in addition to
resource exploitation and industrial development, the influence of
land-based human activities has reached the deepest parts of the ocean
in areas more than 1000 km from the mainland. Establishment of
international frameworks on monitoring of deep-sea plastic pollution as
an Essential Ocean Variable and a data sharing protocol are the keys to
delivering scientific outcomes that are useful for the effective
management of plastic pollution and the conservation of deep-sea



Human footprint in theabyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris

19. May 2021