the Clean Sea Life project

Clean Sea Life: an awareness raising program on marine litter uniting all marine enthusiasts in Italy – divers, yachtsmen, fishermen, beach goers, students and citizen – in the protection of the Mediterranean sea.


Even the most remote corner of the Mediterranean sea is flooded with litter, material that was discarded, abandoned or lost at sea. Plastic bottles, bags and increasing quantities of confetti-like fragments, generated by degrading plastic objects, make up 80% of marine litter in the Mediterranean sea. Illegal dumps, river output and sewage overflow, as well as tourist activities are the main sources of marine litter in the area. Shipping and professional fishing contribute to 20% of marine litter in the Mediterranean sea.

the Clean Sea Life project

Clean Sea Life (LIFE15 GIE/IT/000999) is a European project that has created in Italy a movement of ocean-lovers – yachtsmen, divers, fishermen, beachgoers, students, teachers and the general public –committed to take co-responsibility towards the sea and act as ambassadors of Ocean stewardship. The Clean Sea LIFE project has recovered over 40 tons of marine litter since 2016 including hundreds of lost fishing gear, and increased awareness on the impact of plastic waste pollution on marine biodiversity, the importance of prevention and proper waste management and of alternatives to single-use plastics. We lead studies and monitoring activities all around the Italian coasts and also assist local, regional and national authorities in the drafting and implementation of litter-reducing policies. From banning microbeads in cosmetics or plastic cotton buds, to a law extending our fishing for litter activities to all fishermen in Italy, to banning the mass release of balloons in local councils, the Clean Sea LIFE project has shaped legislation that is reducing the amount of litter affecting the Mediterranean sea. Take the pledge and get involved!

The Clean Sea Life awareness campaign aims at a concrete and short-term goal – recovering quantities of marine litter – and a long-term goal, which is to induce all sea lovers to get actively involved in the protection of the sea during their activities. The specific objectives are:

  • To increase awareness of marine litter, empowering citizens to become part of the solution
  • To remove existing litter, including lost fishing gear, and prevent further littering
  • To promote “fishing for litter” initiatives and to train fishing industry professionals in responsible practices
  • To provide guidelines for the management of marine litter, increase exchange of knowledge, the uptake of best practices and assist authorities in achieving a Good Environmental Status of the sea, as required under the MSFD.

Expected results: The project expects to reach 300,000 people, having the code of conduct signed by 20,000, and ensuring that some 600 diving teachers and school teachers highlight the problem in their lessons curriculum.
The legacy of the Clean Sea Life project, beyond an increased awareness on marine litter and the necessity to adopt a more responsible behaviour, will be two practical tools: a map of critical areas impacted by marine litter, for mitigation measures, and guidelines for the management of marine litter that will be actively disseminated to regional and local stakeholders

fishing for litter

Clean Sea Life will involve also professional fishermen in ‘fishing for litter’ activities. This project will also contribute to the knowledge base of this problem, identifying areas most affected by marine litter and in need of remediation actions. With input from local authorities and operators, Clean Sea Life will also identify and disseminate the best management practices, promoting shared guidelines on a national and Mediterranean level.


Partner of the Clean Sea Life project, supported by the EU LIFE programme., are Parco Nazionale dell’Asinara (beneficiary), CoNISMa, Fondazione Cetacea, Legambiente, MedSharks and Centro Velico Caprera.

the LIFE programme

LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed more than 4500 projects. For the 2014-2020 funding period, LIFE will contribute approximately €3.4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate. Learn more about the LIFE Programme here!

And read about other LIFE projects dealing with plastic waste here

Today @CapitanMelo swam across the Messina Strait entangled in plastic, just like too many animals in the Mediterranean Sea. We’ll donate our exhibit to his museum in Milazzo, and present him with a special edition of #cleansealife water bottle for #OceanHeroes #ilmareringrazia

Oggi @CapitanMelo ha attraversato lo Stretto di Messina frenato da un grappolo di plastica, come i tanti animali intrappolati nella #plasticainmare. @CleanSeaLIFE donerà al museo di Milazzo MuMa la mostra, e a lui la borraccia #ilmareringrazia per l’impegno #spazzamare

We will be happy when our #fishingforlitter activity stops making news (yesterday on #Italia1), and becomes routine across Italy & the #Mediterranean sea. #salvamare #marinelitter #PlasticPollution

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