International Marine Debris Data Harmonization Workshop was held in Yokohama in August 2023

05 September 2023

At the end of August 2023, the International Marine Debris Data Harmonization Workshop was held in Yokohama, Japan. The event gathered prominent marine scientists and specialists whose research focuses on marine plastic pollution. The workshop was sponsored by the Ministry of Environment of Japan and the European Union through the EU4OceanObs Action, H2020 Eurosea and EUROqCHARM projects.


The overall goal of this international technical workshop was to enhance the level of data including associated metadata identification to support global data harmonization for selected key marine debris indicators that will underpin the successful mitigation of plastic pollution. The workshop presented the state of the art when it comes to harmonization of monitoring methods and data synthesis efforts but predominantly included working/discussion sessions in plenary and dedicated breakout groups.


During the first session rationale and objectives of the workshop were discussed. The participants shared the urgency and necessity of measures against marine pollution. Case studies of the application of scientific data regions to policy and decision-making were presented from nine countries. The takeaways from the opening session were:

  • Which monitoring data should be produced by the international community? Ocean surface microplastics are one of the most matured areas of monitoring. But the technical aspect, as well as the needs aspect (what people think is important), should be considered.
  • Interactive communication of science and policy-making is needed.
  • Equity should be considered for those who are not involved yet. Enhancing accessibility to encourage participation by citizens and businesses.
  • Importance of harmonized monitoring guidelines.
  • Interoperability will be ensured by metadata harmonization.


The second session addressed data gaps to inform marine debris indicators. The objective of the discussion was to exchange views on what data is necessary to inform the marine debris indicators, and to what level that can be provided by the current capacity to monitor and observe the ocean. The takeaways from this session were:

  • Monitoring data is to be reliable and robust.
  • Quality control agreed by the international community is important to enhance reliable data.
  • Monitoring data in different ecosystems will help to realize the holistic approach.
  • Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAPs) and Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) may contribute to developing Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs).
  • Data obtained by a variety kinds of monitoring methods which are appropriately chosen should be acceptable. It may be from simple ones to ones that require infrastructure like remote sensing.
  • Priority setting and a step-by-step approach are needed.
  • Agreement for monitoring unit must be needed.
  • Modelling and Observation of data are mutually supportive. Need communication between those communities.


The following sessions brought further discussion on issues such as:

  • Mapping of the current capacity to monitor and observe selected global-scale marine debris indicators based on available knowledge of existing surveys.
  • Data harmonization and conceptualization of a global federated data management system for ocean surface microplastics and selected global-scale marine debris indicators.
  • Socio-technical challenges for harmonizing surface microplastic data within a federated data management system.
  • Initiating a coordinated observing network for ocean surface microplastics guided by the criteria of the GOOS Observations Coordination Group, and with MOEJ guidelines for harmonizing ocean surface microplastic monitoring methods.


As a result of workshop discussions expected outcomes were agreed upon:

  • A coordinated network (community of practice) of ocean surface microplastic data providers initiated under the auspices of GOOS and IMDOS, with an agreement to adhere to agreed common sampling protocol and metadata and data requirements.
  • Consensus metadata and data requirements sheet agreed upon among MOEJ, EMODnet, NOAA NCEI and any other potential large data integrators.
  • Recommendations for standardized metadata and data requirements for the UNEP GPML Digital Platform data matrix.
  • Agreed roadmap towards a federated data management system for ocean surface microplastics and selected global-scale marine debris indicators.


WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.40WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.49WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.31WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.25WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.48WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.22.58WhatsApp Image 2023-08-30 at 13.23.03Workshop-final-photo

Sponsors and Partners

Follow us
Subscribe to our newsletter
Opcje widoku
Increase text
Increase text
Decrease text
Decrease text
Dark contrast
Dark contrast
Reset settings
Reset settings