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Abstract

Marine litter and microplastics are present in every ocean on a global scale and marine organisms at every level of the food web can ingest micro plastics. Contamination of plastic particles in particular has been identified since the 1970s within the environmental status monitoring programmes, and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive targets a significant reduction in levels of marine litter by 2020. It is thus important to raise the awareness of the potential economic consequences of marine litter and microplastics as they adversely impact the quality of the marine environment, the economy, wildlife and publichealth and safety. So far only a few studies have explored the economic consequences of marine litter and there have been none on microplastics. This study extends an existing approach to estimate cost, considering the potential economic impact of marine litter on maritime and marine economy, and microplastics on marine organisms. This stochastic approach includes direct and indirect use-value components within a framework of a total economic valuation model in order to tackle the uncertain effects of marine contaminants and pollutants of plastics and microplastics on marine organisms. A benefit cost-ratio represents here the loss of ‘economic benefits’, where costs could have been avoided by mitigation of marine litter and microplastics pollution.

Keywords: Economic valuation, marine litter, microplastics, environmental status, control measures