Plastic pollution transcends marine protected area boundaries in the eastern tropical and south-eastern Pacific

Zara L.R. Botterell, Francisca Ribeiro, Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, Eliana Alfaro, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Nicola Allan, Nicole Becerra, Laura Braunholtz, Susana Cardenas-Diaz, Diamela de Veer, Gabriela Escobar-Sanchez, Maria Virginia Gabela-Flores, Brendan J. Godley, Inty Grønneberg, Jessica A. Howard, Daniela Honorato-Zimmer, Jen S. Jones, Ceri Lewis, Jeffrey C. Mangel, Maximilian MartinJuan Pablo Muñoz Pérez, Sarah E. Nelms, Clara Ortiz-Alvarez, Adam Porter, Martin Thiel, Tamara S. Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Eastern Tropical and South-Eastern Pacific region is of global biodiversity importance. At COP26, the governments of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador committed to the expansion of existing MPAs to create a new Mega MPA, safeguarding the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor. It offers a profound step forward in conservation efforts but is not specifically designed to protect against the more diffuse anthropogenic threats, such as plastic pollution. We combine published data with our own unpublished records to assess the abundance and distribution of plastic pollution in the region. Macro- and microplastic concentrations varied markedly and were not significantly different when comparing areas inside and outside existing MPA boundaries. These findings highlight the diffuse and complex nature of plastic pollution and its ubiquitous presence across MPA boundaries. Understanding the sources and drivers of plastic pollution in the region is key to developing effective solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116271
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Eastern tropical marine corridor (CMAR)
  • Macroplastic
  • Marine litter
  • Marine protected areas (MPAs)
  • Microplastic
  • Pacific Ocean


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