The important role of Citizen Science to combat Marine Litter and how citizen science is transforming research.

Citizen science plays a key role in data collection on the presence and pathways of litter in the environment, on land, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Citizen science — active public involvement in scientific research — is advancing; there is a growing stakeholder network of civil society organisations and marine scientists collaborating on professionalising citizen science.

Citizen science contributes to expanding data collection to a wider geographical area. Based on data analysis campaigns can be developed to address specific types of litter found in the monitored area, which contributes to advancing applied science.

Citizens engaging in litter clean-ups do not necessarily have the knowledge about scientific methods, monitoring protocols, data analysis and reporting and is met by scepticism by some. Collaboration between citizens and scientists is key.

Capacity building

One example of such cross-sector collaboration is the Labuan Bajo monitoring program. Since 2021 the Ministry of Fisheries of Republic of Korea and Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation supports O.S.E.A.N and Indonesian Waste Platform (IWP) on developing a comprehensive citizen science program, which includes training on monitoring protocol and data logging.

An initial workshop was conducted by O.S.E.A.N in October 2019 in Labuan Bajo, on Flores island in East Indonesia. In October 2021 IWP team conducted a second monitoring in the same 5 locations with guidance from OSEAN team. Report will be published in December 2021.


Asia Pacific Civil Forum on Marine Litter – Marine Litter News – Volume 13 · Issue 2 · December 2021 – The Important Role of Citizen Science to Combat Marine Litter and Ways It Can Transform Research

Citizen science in the field


Campaign materials have been developed to address one item which was found abundantly washed ashore on beaches around Labuan Bajo. In this campaign we address ice-packs used in subsistence fishing communities (across Indonesia). Fishermen use frozen ice packed in single-use transparent plastic to cool their fish catch when they are out at sea. Upon returning to the harbour the ice has defrosted and the plastic is discarded in the water. The bags are found in different levels of the water column and eventually part end up on beaches. In the water column the bags resemble jelly-fish; the world’s oceans jellyfish are frequently consumed by a diverse range of marine predators including fish, birds, turtles, and various invertebrates including octopus, sea cucumbers, crabs, and amphipods; Feeding on jellyfish makes marine predators susceptible to ingestion of plastics.

Campaign leaflet
Frozen ice-packs / Fishing vessels

Achievements of 3 year project “Strengthening and Improving Marine Litter Response in Indonesia” supported by O.S.E.A.N., Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries Republic of Korea, Korea Marine Environment Corporation. The program includes capacity building of citizens engaging in science, monitoring methodology, reporting, development of campaigns to reduce marine litter.