Updated:8/12/2021

The Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment has identified synergies between oil spill preparedness and the clean-up of marine litter.

Illustration of handling an oil spill and a plastic spill in the sea. Photo: Screenshot from video

There are many common challenges in the management of marine litter and an oil spill. This provides good opportunities for knowledge exchange across disciplines in order to provide added value both ways.

Generally, synergies in technology, organisation of actions and use of resources have been identified. The animation film below illustrates how elements from these areas can be used across disciplines and in the clean-up of either oil or marine litter.

– The technology should be used across disciplines

The technology used in the effort to combat marine litter and for oil spill preparedness must solve a common problem: pollution of the sea and coastline. This provides good opportunities for synergies and interdisciplinary solutions.

– We have identified synergy effects in boom technology, recovery technology, remote sensing technology, autonomous systems, and mapping and modelling tools. Technological solutions in these areas can and should be used across disciplines, says Ingvild Skeie Liland at the Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment.

Resource use and logistics

There are potential synergies between oil spill preparedness and the clean-up of marine litter related to public, private and voluntary actors who possess the expertise and equipment that is particularly suitable for tasks along the coast and in beach zones. For example, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has surveillance aircraft and drones that can be used to map pollution of both oil and plastic.
By using stakeholders in initiatives in both areas, the competence of the personnel can be honed and developed. This will contribute to increased knowledge and understanding of common challenges and also give the effort added value," says Skeie Liland.

Organisation

The clean-up of marine litter and oil spills requires organising the work and procedures to ensure that efforts will be effective, safe, and environmentally friendly. Thus, competence sharing across disciplines will be able to strengthen both areas.
One example is the action taken by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, IUA West Finnmark and the Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment outside Hammerfest in the autumn of 2020. On this occasion, the organisational model from the management of an oil spill was used to plan and carry out a beach clean-up operation.

It is likely that there are several potential synergies between oil spill preparedness and the clean-up of marine litter, in both the coordination of emergency preparedness resources, in research, and in the development of technology and methods. It is also expected that improvements to the aforementioned technological areas will be useful in both respects.
Here is a full overview of the synergies.