Microlitter in arctic marine benthic food chains and potential effects on sediment dwelling fauna


This report provides both field and impact data on microlitter pollution in the arctic marine environment of Svalbard and Greenland. Microlitter concentrations and characteristics were determined in marine sediments and biota in relation to local sources. Higher concentrations and diversities were found closer to human settlements and sites where lost/dumped fishing gear accumulated. Thus, local microlitter sources were found to be present in the Arctic. The experimental studies on effects of microlitter on feeding rate, microplastic ingestion, respiration and locomotion activity in an arctic amphipod, confirmed previous studies showing effects only at very high concentrations, not yet relevant in the arctic environment. The relatively low field concentrations of microlitter found in this study should be regarded as a ‘window of opportunity’ to act to at least reduce local pollution.